Tax incentives will not be increased to boost accommodation supply

There are no plans to increase tax-free incentives to encourage homeowners to rent rooms to college students despite the ongoing accommodation crisis.

urrently homeowners in Ireland can earn €14,000 per year tax free on rental income from digs.

However, Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education Niall Collins told RTÉ’s Drivetime this evening that the idea of raising the amount that can be earned tax-free through digs has not been discussed.

Earlier in the programme, Vice President for Campaigns, at the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Beth O’Reilly said there are tens of thousands of students across the country who are homeless due to poor Government policy.

Ms O’Reilly appealed on-air for people who have spare rooms, to rent them out – saying “it’s the only short-term solution,” to the student housing crisis.

Mr Collins echoed this appeal and said the situation for students is a “perfect storm” which is a wider “consequence of the housing crisis.

“We have international students coming into the country, we’ve increased demographics in terms of numbers now attending college, we’ve had issues in relation to construction, the cessation of construction industry as well; obviously during the Covid lockdown and some other practical issues that are coming up in terms of letting accommodation – where we don’t have sharing of accommodation and a reluctance also of people to let their properties because of the Covid environment in which we’re living.

“In the main, the issue is addressing supply,” he said.

Mr Collins added there is no “quick fix solution” but the said the Government has recognised the issue and is seeking to address it.

“In addition, we’ve increased the Student Assistance Fund from a pot of about €8 million to €16 million,” he said.

However, Ms O’Reilly said: “The reality of the situation is the student housing crisis has been going on for years. We didn’t need a quick fix back then. We needed policy changes. We needed those things that don’t happen overnight.

“Now it has progressed to the point where we do need a quick fix – where we do need policy changes that can happen overnight, because the situation has expanded to the point where there are tens of thousands of students who are currently without a home.”

Under the rent-a-room relief scheme, a homeowner who rents out a room in their home is exempt from income tax on the amount that the tenant pays for rent and other services, up to €14,000 in a tax year. The relief applies only to residential tenancies, not to short-term guest arrangements. The relief can also apply to a self-contained unit (such as a basement flat) if it is part of, or is directly attached to, the home.

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