I’m a second year student in Maynooth University. My average day involves getting from my home in Offaly to MU and back again. This takes two hours (sometimes longer) each way by bus, a bus I am lucky to have because without it I would not be able to continue my studies in MU. My experience is not unique and is shared with many other students who have not been able to secure accommodation during the academic year. This is a problem that worsens each year and I think It’s about time we confronted this issue.
Trying to find accommodation is near impossible due to the lack of places to rent in Maynooth and the prices of these properties. You will spend hours trawling through Daft.ie, Rent.ie and the Maynooth Students’ Accommodation Facebook page, only to find a box room in a person’s house for €500 a month. And that’s if you’re lucky, other properties include beds in converted garages and sheds. These landlords think it’s acceptable to put a kitchen counter in a bedroom, call it a ‘Studio Apartment’ and slap €850 a month on it. With prices like this you would think you were in a big city, not Maynooth.
Landlords are continuing to rise the cost of digs in Maynooth and surrounding areas. A twin room which would have been considered the cheaper option for students, will now cost €500 and up. That’s half a grand to share a room with someone you may not even know for five days, seven if the landlord is sound enough. How is this normal? How can people justify these prices? Well they can’t, no matter how hard they try and convince us this is acceptable. Unless the room has an immaculate bed, an ensuite, is right by the University and your landlord is cooking up a five-course meal every night, which I highly doubt.
Landlords see how desperate students are for a place to stay and take advantage of that fact. They simply do not take into consideration how the students are going to cough up the money, they only see potential to make easy cash. To think pricing a twin room at €1000 a month is anything short of extortionate is scandalous.
Then, for those of us who can’t find afford place to stay we end up commuting to Maynooth every day. If you don’t have a car then you take a bus or train, but this depends if there even is transport to Maynooth from your location. Commuting can work for people, but this depends on how long the journey is and on how accommodating your parents are at home. There are students who can’t stay at their home place for personal reasons and need to move out, but they can’t. This all adds to the stress of University and increases the student’s chances of dropping out of studies.
There needs to be change and this starts by making noise about these landlords. If you were in the Maynooth Students Accommodation group, you will have seen students criticising advertisements for overpriced digs and this shaming needs to continue. Improved rules for advertising on this group will also need to be implemented.
The Maynooth Students’ Union issued a statement on the ongoing rent hikes:
“We call for affordable accommodation for all students. We call on the Government to introduce rent caps on student accommodation in line with the consumer price index. We call on the people of Maynooth to consider renting out spare rooms in their homes.
We especially call on the landlords of Maynooth to be realistic with their valuations of their rental offerings. Students are working an increasing number of hours every week, on top of their college workload, to pay the rent that you are asking. Students are at the heart of Maynooth – Ireland’s only University Town, please make them welcome”
Serious action will need to happen if we want to help students stay in education. The SU will need to stand by this statement and ensure change for Maynooth Students, we cannot let this continue.
We need affordable accommodation now!