The Union of Students in Ireland, in association with Students’ Unions across the country, call on the operators of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation to refund students for accommodation they cannot use for the remainder of the academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, many private firms have refused to refund students who have had to leave college and return home due to the pandemic and are no longer living in the privately-operated student buildings.
Now the USI has teamed up with UPLIFT to ask Irish people to show their support for the call for these rent refunds by signing an open letter to the companies involved.
Students have had to leave accommodation for many difficult reasons, such as to self-isolate, care for vulnerable family members or to return home to countries that have closed their borders for the foreseeable future. Many students have also lost part-time jobs due to closures as a result of the pandemic.
Most colleges and universities have agreed to provide refunds for vacated on-campus accommodation, as is right in this crisis.
The USI and its members are calling on these companies to show compassion to students who find themselves in very difficult circumstances. Students are out of college, they’ve lost jobs, had to move home and are trying to keep up their study online and keep themselves healthy while supporting family and friends who are more vulnerable.
Some students have underlying health conditions and have had to move home in order for them to be able to self-isolate away from their shared student accommodation. Some students had very tough decisions to make in a hurry, such as those from India who had 24 hours to decide whether to go home as the borders were closing and they didn’t have time to get reassurance on rent refunds.
The USI is calling on the companies – ISA Accommodation Dublin, Uninest, Aparto and Athlone Student Rooms – to look at ways they can support students who have paid thousands of euro for these facilities which they are not now using.
These private accommodation companies charge substantial rent and if there was ever a time to give back to society, it is now. Some of these companies are telling students they can only get a refund if they find someone else to take the place, which is very unlikely in a pandemic, , or that they will only be refunded deposits and the unused cost of bills, which is also not sufficient. We believe that students and their health should be a priority in this period and not the stress of how they can afford to survive.
Signed on behalf of the Union of Students in Ireland and Students Unions throughout Ireland by:
Lorna Fitzpatrick, USI
Laura Beston, TCDSU
Shaz Oye, TCD Graduate SU
Aaron Burke, GMITSU
John Fortune, WITSU
Siobhan Howe, LYITSU
Pierre Yimbog, TUDSU
Clare Austick, NUIGSU
Petrina Comerford, ITTSU
Adam Kane, CCSU
Thomas Drury, ITCSU
Aaron Buckley, CITSU
Ben Dunlea, UCCSU
Áine Daly, AITSU
Joe Redahan, STACSSU
Katie Deegan, MSU
Dajana Sinik, NCISU
Lilly Cunningham, NCADSU
Christine Farrell, DCUSU
Tony Dunne, IADTSU
Glenn McCourt, DKITSU
UPLIFT petition here: https://action.uplift.ie/campaigns/student-accommodation-covid