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student accomodation

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With CAO Results out today, soon comes the panic that comes with looking for student accommodation – let's be real, it's a hellish situation. CAO offers are made on 20th August leading to a scramble (to put it mildly!) for any living arrangements that might be half-decent – given that securing accommodation in Dublin at the moment is akin to the search for the Holy Grail. Rents are high and choices are few, so it's a source of worry for many. 

Finding the right place presents many hurdles and problems for students and their families. With this in mind, and should you be lucky to nab a place before college starts up, leading student accommodation provider Hazelwood Student Village shares their top do’s and don’ts when searching for student accommodation so that even the little things aren't forgotten before you sign any dotted lines.

Do: Start your search now – Location, Location, Location

If you have filled out your CAO form you know the location of the universities and colleges you have applied to. Start your search now. Before you receive your CAO offer know the area you’d like to live in. Create a shortlist. You would be best placed to start your search now and familiarise yourself with what is to offer. It’s important to think about the convenience of your accommodation; would you be near to the university facilities, local shops, nightlife? identify areas with good transport links so that you can widen your search. Prioritise areas where you will feel safe, check that it is close to amenities and shops. With these areas mapped out, you will be a step ahead when you receive your CAO offer.

 

Do: Work out your priorities and your non-negotiables – Safe and Sound

Think about your preferred accommodation. To share or not to share? What are your priorities? Security, Ease of Access to college, Strong reliable internet connection, bedroom size, Public transport directly into the City Centre or to your college? What can’t you live without? Once you have identified what your top priorities are, this will help narrow down your search. Safety and security should be top of the agenda when you move into a new property. Some purpose-built student accommodation has security gates, manned security personnel. Make sure these are on your list.

Do: Ask for advice

If you have any friends or family living in Dublin ask them what they know – you never know what tips they might come out with. If you know students the year ahead of you who have been through this exercise ask their advice.

Don’t: Panic and take the first accommodation you view

Once you have started searching for accommodation in or near Dublin, don’t make the rookie error of placing a deposit with the first place you view. Make sure to shop around.

Don’t: Be scammed

There are online scams and frauds. Meet the landlord or agency. If you pay in cash, get a receipt. Only sign a contract for the period you intend to stay in the accommodation, remember if you do not require the accommodation for the summer agree that you re renting for the college terms only. Take photographs of the accommodation before you move in. Note any damage, any paintwork chipped or peeling so that it doesn’t get taken out of your deposit as a penalty.

Don’t: Sign a contract without going over the small details

Different accommodation offers different packages – make sure you know exactly what is being offered to you. Are there any hidden extras, such as WIFI and Utility bills? Add these into your budget to make sure you are being as realistic as possible with what you can afford. Make sure to check the start date and end date on any contract.

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Unless you've been living under a rock you'll know that the renter's market in Dublin is a complete shambles right now. Rents are going up and students and young professionals are being forced to shell out crazy amounts of money just to have a roof over their heads. 

Change is coming- although it may not seem like it from the window of that €800 a month box room- and that the head of that change is Anna O'Flynn, CEO of Generation Accommodation. 

Originally from Westmeath, Anna is all to familiar with the struggle of finding student and young professional accommodation. She began studying Engineering in UCD and changed to Economic and Maths after 18 months. It was then she first discovered Enactus. 

 “It was a Monday evening and I wanted to go home then go back out on a night out. A friend convinced me to go along to this Enactus meeting with her. To be honest, I hadn't a clue what it was about.”

Enactus are "a charitable organisation which develops future talent by enabling third level students to create, and implement, social entrepreneurial projects which positively impact our local and global communities."

But for Anna, Enactus means so much more than that. 

“It’s all about empowerment. In college there’s all these charities that might do events to raise money and awareness but that’s only one day or one hour a week. I know it’s kind of corny, but the best way to describe it is really, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but give him a net and you feed him for life.

"We’re empowering people to rethink the way charities and social enterprises run. We’re encouraging people to make a real difference." 

During a training day, Anna's group, many of whom were from outside Dublin, realised that housing was one of the biggest issues faced by our generation. 

"We had masters students from the US and Germany who had come over a week before their course began and ended up living in hostels until they found something."

But housing wasn't the only issue they wanted to tackle. Elderly isolation is also at an all time high in Ireland- and it's a lot more dangerous than one might think. Loneliness increases mortality rate in the elderly by 26%, worse than both smoking and obesity. 

“We also had some people from Dublin on the team who had lovely neighbours. They would pass them on the street and would stop for the chats because that might be the only person they talk to all day.

"One of the girls had a grandmother near UCD who was living alone. Many of the elderly people are living alone as their families aren't around or are living abroad." 

So they thought- why not encourage students and young professionals to live with retired people with a spare room? So Generation Accommodation was born. 

“I thought we were mad, we were only a group of students- how could we possibly make this work?”

Finding potential renters wasn't an issue on UCD's teeming campus- but reaching homeowners proved to be more of a challenge. 

"We put up posters for events and coffee mornings but we didn't have much luck. It can be difficult to get people to trust you when you’re basically telling them to open their homes to a stranger.”

So Anna opted for a more personal approach. The GA team  presented at a post-mass coffee morning in Mount Merrion parish hall. Luckily for them, they had their first taker. 

“Once one person does it and their friends see them do it and see it’s a reputable source, it definitely makes a difference. They also see that we do everything to mitigate the risk associated with renting out. After that first hurdle there were far more homeowners willing to try us.”

The benefits of shared accommodation are palpable on both sides. For the renters, they can avail of extremely reasonable rent, as well as all the creature comforts of a home away from home. Anna also cites the "cultural difference" between the two generations as an advantage- to give the younger people "a different way of seeing things". Especially for foreign students, who can get the "real Irish experience" of being immersed in a local household. 

For the homeowners, the increased security of having someone that they can depend on in the house is extremely important. The homeowners self-select who they rent to, promoting a good relationship between the two. 

“Meeting the renters really humanizes them. There’s this stereotype that students are wild party animals and in the vast majority of cases it’s simply not true. Many of them may be fourth years or masters students who just really want to knuckle down and study.

“That’s why the coffee mornings are so important- they get to meet the person instead of the stereotype."

On a day to day basis, having someone checking in on the retiree can make a massive difference to their quality of life. 

“Even during the recent cold spell the renter were able to pop down to the shop for a few bits instead of the elderly person having to venture out in the snow and ice by themselves."

This year, GA merged with the social enterprise Inhoming and will be officially relaunching in the near future. 

The future is also looking bright for Anna, right now she's busy matching applicants to suitable homes, and has plans in the works to launch GA nationwide, with one eye on overseas expansion. 

Feeling like you might have the next big social enterprise idea? Anna's advice to is utilise any supports you can find. 

“There are so many support and programmes out there. Ireland has relatively small network as well so it’s easy to get to know different people and opportunities.

“Say yes to different opportunities, it’s amazing what doors will open.

"If I hadn't said yes to that first meeting I wouldn't be where I am today.”

See here to find out more about Enactus or Generation Accomodation 

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The Dublin housing crisis has reached a peak, with a report from Daft.ie today showing that rent in the capital has increased to an average of €1700 per month. 

Students are currently pouring into Dublin from all over Ireland, embarking on another year in further education, and simultaneously needing somewhere to rent while doing it. 

A new report released by the Union of Students in Ireland found that 36 per cent of students needed one to three months to find their accommodation, with one in five students starting their search for accommodation in August.

The report also found that some students resort to sleeping in cars or on floors due to lack of affordable housing. 

1 in 5 students also experienced unexpected rent increases during college.

USI is urging students who have accepted their CAO offers to start looking for accommodation immediately, in order to beat the rush to secure bed spaces ahead of college.

58 per cent of students declared the monthly cost of accommodation as being €251-500. Half of those asked have an income not exceeding €500 a month. 

The Union say the cost of accommodation is proving difficult for students, and the cost of rent is leaving no money for food, travel or books.

'The issue of housing permeates across all groups of our society. In recent years, the shortage in student accommodation has forced students, families and professionals to race for accommodation, and compete for somewhere to live,' said USI President Michael Kerrigan.

'In many instances, this competition has pushed students to take accommodation that exists outside of their price range, or to drop out of college.'

'More than 25,000 students have already accepted their college places yesterday from the CAO.'

'There is still a shortage of accommodation, and students are being crammed into small spaces, with harsh living conditions and horror stories of the state of living.'

Wednesday Montague, an IADT student, travels up to eight hours a day to attend college due to the lack of housing. 

'I'm from Offaly and I travel 4 hours to college and 4 hours back every day, all because of unaffordable accommodation.'

'The excessive travel and stress from missing college because of travel had put me in the hospital. The shortage exists, but cost is a factor too.'

A number of students said that they sleep in friends' houses on couches or floors.

Others said they sleep in their cars, and two students said they sleep on the streets. 

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