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Raise the Roof campaign calls for full support for new measures to assist student renters

Date Released: 25 February 2021

The Raise the Roof housing campaign today (February 25) backed calls from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) for all party support for proposed new legislation to provide greater protection for student renters, for the duration of the Covid 19 public heath emergency.

The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents and Other Protections) (Covid-19) Bill 2021 is to be debated today in the Oireachtas and seeks to ensure that student renters would not be forced to pay for accommodation they were unable to use during the academic year, due to Covid 19 restrictions.

The bill is backed by all major opposition parties, including: Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, the Social Democrats, Solidarity/ People Before Profit and the Independent Group.

In many instances, students at third level and in further education have prepaid for accommodation they have been unable to use, due to the public health emergency.  

Health restrictions have limited travel and have seen tuition across the sector provided remotely, with the situation unlikely to change before the end of the current academic year. 

The proposed legislation would also enable students to terminate rental contracts that are no longer required due to the pubic health restrictions and would provide a redress mechanism, where there were difficulties in securing repayment of rent. 

Raise the Roof campaign coordinator, Macdara Doyle said the student case was “unanswerable” and called for all political parties and government to support the bill and the measures it outlines. 

“Students should not be left to carry the cost of accommodation they cannot use, due to public  health restrictions. Students across the higher education sector have encountered enormous and unprecedented difficulties over recent months, in pursuing their studies. 

“It is wrong and unfair that the cost of unused accommodation would be added to that burden. The proposed legislation provides a simple and effective mechanism to address this problem and should be supported by all,” Mr Doyle said. 

The Raise the Roof campaign group is comprised of trade unions, housing and homeless agencies, women’s groups, political parties, representatives of older people, children’s advocacy groups, community organisations, student unions, Traveller groups, housing academics and experts.

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