Former student residents of Kavanagh Court are furious with the complex’s management – and with Trinity – after they were offered only a partial rent refund despite being “basically left with no option” but to leave their accommodation in March when the pandemic hit.
Nearly 50 students have said they feel “left on their own” after Trinity urged them to accept a partial refund from Kavanagh Court – despite previously telling them it would “offer full support” to those seeking compensation from the luxury accommodation complex.
Some 48 residents this week signed an email to the College that says “no one is willing to take liability” amid an offer of a partial refund that will see many students lose out on over €900.
Those affected feel they were forced to leave the complex – an “approved partner” of Trinity – on College’s say-so, and are now being left to fend for themselves when it comes to chasing refunds.
The email, addressed to Provost Patrick Prendergast and written by Teja Pirnat, a student and former resident of Kavanagh Court, says students “are not satisfied with the offer we received from Uninest”.
It says students “were basically left with no option but to leave” Kavanagh Court in March, when College told students they had 48 hours to vacate their accommodation.
Uninest, the multinational corporation that operates Kavanagh Court, is offering its residents refunds or credit on their cost of their rent from April 24th – nearly a month after most Trinity students left the complex.
On March 16th, Trinity instructed all of its residents to vacate their rooms – giving international students just 48 hours’ notice – before admitting a day later it was “not in a position” to instruct those living in the privately owned Kavanagh Court to leave.
But many students living in Kavanagh Court had already booked flights home by the time Trinity acknowledged it did not have the authority to tell them to move out.
At the time, Trinity said it would “offer full support” to students living in Kavanagh Court and Binary Hub who were seeking compensation, but stopped short of offering pro rata refunds – the arrangement for students living in the accommodation College owns directly.
Now, Kavanagh Court residents have until tomorrow to accept or reject an offer of compensation that means most of them lose out on a month’s rent – for most, a figure upwards of €900.
Trinity has “strongly” encouraged them to accept an offer it says is not illegal and is unlikely to be altered.
Those affected feel that Trinity won’t accept responsibility for students in Kavanagh Court despite putting them in a difficult situation when it told them to leave, Pirnat told The University Times.
“What makes me so angry”, she said, “is that Trinity is not willing to say that they made a mistake – they are not willing to cover anything”.
“They’re just pretending that that’s the law and they tried to do their best and that’s it. Basically we were evicted from our residences.”
In an email to Pirnat this week, Neal Murphy, the head of Trinity’s Accommodation Office, wrote: “While Kavanagh Court’s position regarding refunds is not ideal, management has made significant concessions and I urge you to accept the refund on offer before Monday’s deadline.”
He said the Residential Tenancies Board has ruled that “there is no obligation” for accommodation providers to issue refunds.
“Here in Trinity, we can encourage third parties to make concessions but we cannot force them”, Murphy wrote, adding: “I would strongly recommend you and other former residents apply for the refund/credit offered by Kavanagh Court as soon as possible.”
By the time of publication, Trinity had not responded to a request for comment. This article will be updated if a response is received.
One student, who left Kavanagh Court in late March, was told in an email that the offer of a partial refund “is based on what our investors have approved”.
“The beginning of Lockdown was a date decided by the Investors.”
Residents have until tomorrow – Monday, June 15th – to apply for a refund or credit.