Proposed rent increases on Trinity’s student accommodation are off the table – for now – with “no proposal for a rent increase” on the agenda for the next meeting of College’s Finance Committee.
A proposal to increase the cost of Trinity’s accommodation by four per cent, which had featured on a Finance agenda seen by The University Times, will not come up for discussion when the committee meets in March, Thomas Deane, a media relations officer in Trinity, confirmed today.
Deane admitted that “at some stage an increase of some sort will have to be considered”, but wrote in an email statement to The University Times that “it is too early to say what or when that increase will be discussed”.
Deane did not respond to a question about whether a proposed “€10 per week premium” on Printing House Square will be discussed, but said that “anybody seeking an increase would have to include this on the agenda and it would then be discussed. This has not happened”.
The original proposal, reported on by The University Times, came from the College’s Commercial Revenue Unit, and flagged the risk of “a significant negative impact” on finances “resulting from a drop in demand (occupancy) due to the price sensitivity of student accommodation and the nature of the accommodation department’s fixed cost base”.
Today’s announcement comes less than 24 hours before a planned direct action against the increases organised by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU).
TCDSU President Laura Beston confirmed to The University Times that the protest, set to take place at 2pm on the steps of the Dining Hall, will go ahead.
In an email, Beston wrote that while Trinity “say that rent increases are not tabled for next finance committee it is important to note that rents will almost definitely be increased before the end of the year”.
“College need to accept the reality that even 1-2% increases mean massive increases to students rents financially”, she said, adding that the union “will continue to mobilise and connect with students”.
“This is an issue that will not be going away and we must be ready when it comes to a head.”
Five Irish universities – University College Dublin, Dublin City University, the University of Limerick, Maynooth University and University College Cork – have confirmed rent increases next year.
Most increases push close to the four per cent legally allowed under government legislation introduced last year.
Colleges, led by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), lobbied unsuccessfully for an exemption to the increases, which IUA Director General Jim Miley said would cause “significant administrative overhead and cost which will ultimately have to be borne by students in the form of increased rents”.
On Monday, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin condemned the rent increases, which he called “deeply disappointing” and said “are not recognising the spirit of the law”.
Ó Broin has written to university presidents seeking a meeting over the increases. On Twitter, the IUA wrote in reply to Ó Broin that university “accommodation is funded largely through borrowing so any solutions that may be proposed to address the long standing and urgent funding crisis in 3rd level would be welcomed”.
“We’re aware that some university presidents have responded to your letter and agreed to meet you”, the tweet said.