Sinn Féin calls for accommodation refunds for students who vacate early due to COVID-19

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Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan. Pic. Emma Jervis/ Press 22
Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan. Pic. Emma Jervis/ Press 22

PRIVATE and public student accommodation providers have been asked to adopt a “uniform approach” in terms of granting refunds to students who left their accommodation early due to COVID-19.

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Féin, said it is his party’s view that all public and private accommodation providers “should provide these students and their families with refunds”.

The Sinn Féin representative says many students have returned home with “colleges and universities now physically closed” and are being denied refunds “despite giving notice that they want to vacate their student accommodation early due to the COVID 19 outbreak”.

He said, “It is important for students in purpose-built accommodation to know that their licences are covered under the Residential Tenancies Act.

“Where landlords are denying refunds of pre-paid rent or deposits beyond the required notice period, they should make formal complaints to the Residential Tenancies Board.”

Deputy Quinlivan noted it would be “helpful if the Minister for Housing and Education made a clear statement calling for refunds from all student accommodation providers”.

A spokesman for University of Limerick (UL) told the Limerick Post, “The on-campus accommodation at University of Limerick has remained open and operational and there are 700 students living in the village residences. Staff are working seven days a week to provide support and security to these students.”

The spokesman said support services for those in UL residences has been extended to “enable students to live in their homes while using high-quality facilities to support remote learning”.

He said, “While the main University campus has physically closed and teaching in lecture theatres and classrooms has transferred online, an extended seven-day support service is in place in the residences so that we can continue to enable students to live in their homes while using high-quality facilities to support remote learning.

“The government has said that universities and other educational facilities should remain closed until April 19 and we are working through the implications of that.”

The spokesman said those at the university continue to “examine all issues” in light of what is described as “rapidly changing circumstances of this global Covid-19 crisis”.