A Bill to protect student renters for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic will be tabled in the Dáil today (Thursday) on the back of a campaign led by the Union of Students in Ireland.
Sinn Fein will table the Bill, which will be signed by 56 opposition TDs, including all TDs from Sinn Fein, the Labour Party, the Social Democrats, Solidarity-People Before Profit and the Independent Group.
The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents and Other Protections) (Covid-19) Act 2021 would force accommodation providers to return prepaid rents to students who cannot live in the accommodation due to public health restrictions or other COVID-19 related reasons.
The Bill would also enable students to terminate contracts on accommodation they no longer need because of COVID-19 and would provide students with access to redress for rent they are having trouble getting repaid.
USI is calling on Government, and all other TDs in the Dáil to support the Bill, bring it to committee stage and act on it immediately.
USI Vice President for Campaigns, Craig McHugh said: “This is extremely urgent for students, they cannot wait any longer. Action must be taken as soon as possible. Due to the lack of legal protections and inflexibility from providers, many students have not been allowed to terminate their contracts with student accommodation providers early as they were in “licensee agreements” and not tenancies. When it comes to purpose-built student accommodation, students have about as many rights as if they were staying in a hotel.
“This Bill, developed by us with Sinn Fein, and co-signed by most of the opposition, comes on the back of repeated calls by USI since the pandemic hit for Government to introduce emergency provisions to ensure student renters were not hit by a repeat of what happened in March 2020 when colleges and universities closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But no action was taken by Government on the back of these calls. We need them to show support for students now and pass the bill.”
The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents and Other Protections) (Covid-19) Act 2021 is due to be introduced in the Dáil at around 1pm on Thursday.
Students and their families and supporters are asked to contact their local Government TDs from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party and urge them to support this Bill when it comes before the Dáil. You can find contact details for your local representatives here.