The trickiest part of any college experience is nailing down a decent place to live. Both UCD and Trinity Student Unions have been encouraging home owners to rent out rooms to students for the semester as the crisis for student housing continues.
Now, UCD Students’ Union have been started to go undercover on social media platform Snapchat to highlight the issues students are facing in their efforts to find clean and safe accommodation.
In videos released so far, a student trails through four apartments and reveals a number of hazardous objects within the building up for rent. In some of the 'apartments', you can see live wires, crumbling ceilings, unhygienic spaces (toilets being used as a storage space for kitchen utensils) and left over rubbish. In two different videos landlords ask the students for deposits and rent in cash without a contract in bedsits that cost over €1,000 a month.
The aim of the SU campaign is to use a popular app to undercover and show "landlords trying to pack 15 people into a house with one bathroom, landlords who ask for deposit and rent in cash w/o contract and the state of most of the student bedsits on the market, going for over a grand".
The campaign is accompanying UCDSU's work on their €14K project with TCD (Trinity College Dublin) Students' Union and Daft.ie to increase the amount of digs available to students on the market. Barry Murphy, a UCD Students' Union Officer who featured in videos, said:
I'm going undercover to these viewings because I think pictures speak louder than words sometimes...We see news articles about the student housing crisis but it's a different thing to be watching it on video - seeing landlords trying to scam you out of a deposit and the first month's rent without word of a contract.This isn't just an attempt to stir the pot...
Student digs are the ideal location for students at the present time. Typically located in a homeowners house, digs are generally of a higher standard than what's currently available for a student price in the private rental sector and have adequate hygiene, living space, and working facilities. UCD SU undercover experience shows that the same cannot be said for a lot of what's available at a student price in the private rental sector.
UCD SU is hoping the videos will catch the eyes of people in government, especially Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing and TD for Dublin Bay South. The SU students have been trying to meet with the Minister to highlight how the student digs housing project should be handled.
We've put €14K together with Trinity SU and we're trying to get better quality rooms on the market. We want some of these clips to reach Minister Murphy so he sees how bad the housing situation is and so his department responds to invitations from UCD Students' Union and Trinity Students' Union to meet on student housing.
Homeowners can earn up to €14,000 in non-taxable income by letting empty rooms to students in their primary residence.