Student Accommodation providers must offer refunds TD insists

Galway Daily news State more focused on defending litigation then protecting children Naughten says

Student accommodation providers must provide refunds to people who had to leave college due to the Covid-19 pandemic a Galway TD has said.

Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten has said he’s received reports of several private student accommodation providers in Galway who will not refund rent to people who have been forced to leave due to Covid-19.

The Independent TD acknowledged that there are a number of reasons why a landlord might refuse to give a refund.

But Naughten added that the nature of many student houses and apartments, which can often be shared by up to seven people, makes it impossible to comply with social distancing guidelines.

“It is also the case that many of these accommodation providers received public support through tax incentives, sites or other supports from the State and they should now support students by refunding rents.”

Some providers have argued that students were free to remain in their accommodation, but Deputy Naughten asked why anyone would isolate themselves with six other people rather than going home when colleges have been shut down.

Universities have taken different approaches around the country to handling their on campus accommodation.

Campus accommodation at NUIG has remained open, and the campus accommodation at Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village are offering refunds to students who have vacated their apartments to return home.

President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh also made an appeal to private landlords to show “care and compassion” towards students in this time after receiving reports of some students being served with evictions notices in March, while others who decided to leave were struggling to get their deposits back.

The University of Limerick said in a letter to Deputy Naughten that some 600 students remain at its campus accommodation despite the physical closure of the college.

However Trinity College Dublin attracted controversy when it asked students to vacate their campus housing with little notice after Covid-19 cases were first identified at the university in the early stages of the pandemic in Ireland.