Student accommodation: Your printable checklist and top tips when finding a room to rent
It’s coming. That sound… at first far in the distance but gradually growing more distinct; the fierce clicking of the Daft keyboard warriors, the soft phat as thousands of Converse clamber and Citroens pull up outside tiny flats, crumbling houses or any dwelling in the country offering a room for rent. Gaff-hunting season has begun.
The reality of a well-equipped, on-campus pad with rent that allows students to afford a solid meal every day is now the butt of some sick joke. Well, have you thought about living in that tent from Electric Picnic? Sure didn’t it only flood that one time? Come to think of it, the five hour commute from Donegal might be grand. Who really needs a full six hours sleep anyway?
Before you go down those routes or revisit that delightful five-bunk bedroom for €500 a week, we might be able to help. No, we don’t have the answer to the student accommodation or the larger scale rental crisis (we’re working on it) – but we do have some practical info before you start your search for a perfect pad. We've compiled a handy, printable check-list for you to use before viewing each property, plus some more info to arm yourself with before entering the battleground. Godspeed.
1. Where to rent a room? Assess the cost of each area
Some areas are going to be more costly than others, but you will need to weigh up the benefits of nearby transport and amenities etc. The latest daft.ie report for Q1 2019 shows an average national rent of €1,304, due to an extremely high demand for accommodation and, with supply at an all-time low with 3,070 units advertised. Yikes.
Below are some of the average monthly rents in some of the key urban centres.
- Dublin €1,884
- Cork €1,266
- Galway €1,189
- Limerick €1,109
- Sligo € 698
- Waterford € 921
You can also read our article on rental costs broken down per area in each main city, here.
2. Use a rent checklist
Having a checklist before viewing each property helps keep you on track with the things that matter (so you're not distracted by the shiny, fluffy things - or flatscreen TVs). It also makes it easier to weigh up the pros and cons of each property.
Download our nifty checklist here which you can print off.
3. Know a student renting a room? Reach out to your contacts
The more people you know on the ground, the better. Call in favours, ring anyone you know who might be able to help – (Hey Fiona, remember me? I’m Paul’s girlfriend’s sister’s friend, I've seen you on Facebook…) – and see if they know of any rooms to sublet or even just to get advice. If you don’t know anyone, join student forums: reach out to your perspective college, ask them if they can involve you with bodies or students that might be able to give you advice. And, come to think of it, you probably do know someone, (who knows someone) in college. Insider advice is valuable.
4. Watch out for dodgy student accommodation deposits
Does that well-heated, airy and cheap apartment seem too good to be true? That’s probably because it is. The gardaí, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and Banking and Payments Federation have warned of recent scams in which victims have been tricked into paying a deposit for a property that does not exist. Students are being warned to always view the property first and liaise directly with the advertiser.
5. Be cautious of student accommodation rental agencies’ hidden fees
Some letting agencies can charge fee for unneeded ‘administration.’ Look out for inflated credit fees, inventory fees, insurance fees, checking out and cleaning fees.
6. Consider student digs
With the market so crammed, and with more and more students renting, the Union of Students in Ireland have launched homes.usi.ie, encouraging landlords and homeowners to list spare rooms, apartments and digs to students across the country. Although not ideal, digs are affordable and high quality, so shouldn’t be ruled out.
7. Negotiate your rent
Yes the market is bursting, and yes rent costs are at an all-time high. But that’s not a reason for you to pay more than last year’s tenants. If you can, try and discover what others paid last year. If the previous students or tenants paid a certain amount there might be a reason for it. If there are areas in the house that aren’t exactly up to scratch or if the place is quite far from transport, there may be aspects you can argue with landlord to at least keep the rent the same as last year.