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**Advocating for O’Donovan to Champion Legislation Safeguarding Student Rental Contracts**

The Association of Study Abroad Providers Ireland (Asapi), a collective representing approximately 30 organizations in the field, has urged the newly appointed Minister for Higher Education, Patrick O’Donovan, to enact fresh regulations that would limit student accommodation lease durations to the academic year. This call comes in response to concerns raised by private student landlords who have begun extending lease terms, posing a significant threat to the €220 million annual sector that directly employs about 350 individuals.

Asapi has expressed appreciation for the government’s pledge to introduce this legislation prior to the summer recess. Nevertheless, the organization emphasizes the urgent need for broader discussions with the minister regarding the challenges faced by study-abroad students in securing accommodations amidst a pronounced scarcity of student housing and escalating demand from international students in Ireland.

Notably, prominent student housing providers such as Aparto under Hines ownership and Yugo, a UK-based student landlord, have transitioned to enforcing standardized 51-week leases for the upcoming 202425 academic year. This shift has resulted in heightened financial burdens for tenants, despite the fact that most students typically utilize such housing solely during the 39 to 41-week college term.

Addressing this development, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on higher education, Mairéad Farrell, criticized the previous Minister, Taoiseach Simon Harris, for his handling of student accommodation issues, labeling the current situation as a consequence of his shortcomings. She underscored the detrimental impact of requiring 51-week leases on the study abroad sector, asserting that it jeopardizes partnerships with US universities and undermines the viability of semester-long and summer study programs in Ireland.

Asapi’s co-chair, Darragh O’Briain, warned that the mandatory adoption of 51-week leases could spell disaster for numerous industry players, potentially leading to a decline in business opportunities and exacerbating bed shortages. The necessity for legislative intervention to safeguard lease lengths was echoed by Karl Dowling, housing officer at Asapi and co-founder of Big Pond Education, who highlighted the critical need to address the escalating accommodation costs facing providers within the sector.

In conclusion, Asapi emphasizes the imperative nature of swiftly enacting protective measures through legislation to mitigate the adverse impacts of extended lease requirements imposed by private student landlords. The organization looks forward to engaging with the government to address these pressing concerns and uphold the integrity of student accommodation standards in Ireland.