The extra rental accommodation that became available during the COVID pandemic will be "sucked up pretty quickly" when colleges return, according to Sherry Fitzgerald.
The rental crisis took a back seat through the pandemic as people moved away from the large urban areas while they were working from home.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Sherry Fitzgerald Managing Director Marian Finnegan said the return of colleges and on-site working in the coming months will bring the issue to the fore once again.
“If you were looking back 10, 15 years ago typically there would have been about 20,000 units available at any one time,” she said. “19,000, 20,000 units available across the country.
“That fell down to about 3,000 about 18 months ago and now it is slightly elevated, slightly more than that but not significantly
“The real position now is that the demand hasn’t been as great since COVID broke over the last 15 months or so and therefore, the conversation around rental inflation or the lack of accommodation hasn’t been as strong but the supply position has not significantly improved.
“Now, what is likely to happen over the summer and into September, is the demand from both students and the typical working population will increase and that supply that is there will be soaked up pretty quickly.
“So, I think we are coming back to that same old conversation we have every summer.”
Also on the show, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) President Lorna Fitzpatrick said the new school year could see the rental crisis return.
“We are very much back to the language of ‘accommodation crisis’ and students and families being put under pressure to find suitable, affordable accommodation,” she said.
“Unfortunately, there are not enough student beds and that does mean that, every September, there is always a flurry for accommodation and unfortunately an awful lot of students and their families are placed under an extreme amount of financial pressure to be able to afford the accommodation.”
She said the crisis was creating a two-tiered education system
“Education is becoming less and less accessible for people just sheerly because of the costs associated with it,” he said.
“One of the biggest myths we have here is that we have free education or we have free fees – we most definitely do not.
“The minimum is €3,000 student contribution charge coupled with the accommodation costs which are rising exponentially year on year. So, I think the main message has to be that there can’t be preferential treatment based on ability to pay up front.
“They are able to pay their rent over the course of the year or the terms of the lease or whatever it may be and people are expected to do that, they sign up to that, that is perfectly fine.
“The problem that arises where one is being chosen over another because they have the money in the bank or they are able to take out a loan or whatever it may be and that just really creates a tiered education system of those who can afford to can access it and those who can’t, well tough luck.”
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