Students preparing for college for the first time should be wary of various issues. PRTB and NUI Galway SU have released a Guide to Student Life and given advice on renting for the first time. Jessica Thompson reports…
With students all over the county preparing to start college, the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) is urging students to check the PRTB Rend Index for actual rents being paid in the vicinity of third level colleges.
The cost of living is increasing to approximately €1,000 per month this year and some Galway landlords are refusing to rent to first year students for fear of anti-social behaviour, making college preparations stressful for students and their parents.
Rent levels adjacent to third level institutions vary widely across the country, so it’s difficult for students to find suitable accommodation for a reasonable price. But by checking the PRTB Rent Index, students can ensure they don’t pay too much for rented accommodation.
“In Galway, there is a worrying trend with students finding it more and more difficult to find accommodation that is affordable and good quality. This Rent Index is a fantastic resource for students to see what they should be paying for accommodation. […]There is limitless information online on usi.ie and on SU websites. I would encourage all students and parents of students to know their rights and be informed before beginning the hunt for accommodation,” said NUI Galway’s Students’ Union President Sean Kearns.
The PRTB Rent Index (available at www.prtb.ie) reveals the actual rents being paid for rented properties in certain areas, enabling students to view the going rents for a variety of property types in all areas close to third level institutions such as GMIT and NUI Galway. This will ensure students and their parents can make informed decisions about the accommodation options open to them and to negotiate the best possible deal on rent.
“Students leaving home and renting for the first time can often feel overwhelmed and unsure how much they should be paying in rent. Our Rent Index provides them with important information and is an authoritative guide as to the actual rents being paid. Of course, the cost of rent is just one consideration in deciding where to live and we always advise students not to feel rushed into renting a property and moving in with new flatmates,” said PRTB Director Anne Marie Caulfield.
Students renting for the first time should take numerous other issues into consideration. The PRTB website also provides information on protecting deposits and how to ensure it is refunded at the end of the academic year, a list of what students are legally entitled to in terms of the standard of rented accommodation, as well as their own responsibilities as tenants.
“Where possible, students should be looking for accommodation yesterday. But in saying that, don’t rush into anything and make sure that you shop around for accommodation to get the best deal. Never get into a relationship without a lease/contract – and read it. Be careful in choosing your roommates and always make sure that you feel safe. Ask about the bills that you will be charged. Check the procedure for your deposit. Ensure the location is safe and near services such as a bus, shop and where possible your institution,” Mr Kearns advised.
Anne Marie Caulfield also warns students to choose their house mates carefully: “You could be held jointly responsible for rent owing by your flatmates or for damage to the property caused by them. Also, get the landlord’s name, address and phone number in case of emergencies – you’re entitled to that. Importantly, do not sign up to a 12 month lease if you will only be staying for a nine month academic year.”
The Union of Students in Ireland recently launched a Guide to Student Life with the support of the PRTB, to help students manage their money effectively, know their rights and settle into college life.
Launched in NUI Galway on 20 August, the guide is a useful resource for students, providing advice on not only accommodation, but money management, personal safety, and budgeting.
“Students’ introduction to college should be exciting and fun-filled for the first few weeks. But it is also a very busy and potentially expensive time for students. This guide gives you simple tips, informs you of your rights and will make those first few weeks a little easier. I encourage all students to pop into the SU in NUIG and check it out for yourself; from first years all the way postgraduates. We were delighted to be launching the guide here in NUIG,” said Mr Kearns.
“We also have good relationships with many organisations if there are any issues with landlords, Threshold for example and the PRTB. If you have any concerns or worries, feel free to call or pop up to us,” he added.
The PRTB also reassured students that there is help and advice available to them should the run into difficulty. USI, the Students’ Union accommodation and welfare officers for each college, Threshold and the PRTB call centre all offer free information to students and their parents.