April 6, 2020
Disappointing response from higher education Minister on student accommodation refunds – Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has described the response from the Minister of State for Higher Education on the issue of student accommodation refunds as “very disappointing.”

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“My office has received dozens of emails from worried students and parents on the issue of student accommodation refunds.

“The emails referenced private accommodation providers and on campus providers alike either refusing refunds, as is the case with the University of Limerick, or being coy about refunds, in the case of Kavanagh Court.

“I wrote the Minister for Education and the Taoiseach last week calling for a strong public statement from them on the issue of student accommodation refunds.

“Unfortunately, the statement from the Minister of State for higher Education below will do little to allay the fears of students and parents seeks refunds.

“I would again urge the Minister for Education to make a public call to all landlords to refund students who have left their accommodation early. 

“At the very least the Minister must call on both on campus and private accommodation providers to honour the legal requirements set in the Residential Tenancies Acts.

“Again, I would urge any student who is encountering difficulties with accommodation providers to take a case to the Residential Tenancies Board.”

ENDS//

Note to editors: Response from Minister O’Connor below

Dear Eoin,

I refer to your recent correspondence about refunds for student accommodation. The Department of Education and Skills is working with representatives from the higher education sector to address the challenges faced by students in this difficult time. 

The Department understands based on the information available to it that the majority of students in university-owned accommodation will receive pro-rata refunds if they vacate their accommodation. The Minister for Education has indicated that he would wish to see this principle applied in the case of students who were residing in privately owned student accommodation.

Refund or cancellation policies in student accommodation should be set out in the license agreement signed at the beginning of the academic year. In the first instance students should engage with their accommodation provider to see if an arrangement can be reached in regard to a refund.

If this is not possible, under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 students have access to the Dispute Resolution Services of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). The relevant division of the RTB can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone on 0818 30 30 37 or 01-702 8100.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Mitchell O’Connor

Minister of State for Higher Education

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