University of Limerick and Plassey Trust Company Limited, which manages the University’s on-campus accommodation, have welcomed the result of a judicial review advocating against the decision of Uisce Éireann to impose water charges on the student residences at UL.
Uisce Éireann (UÉ) had indicated that the provision of water services to UL’s student accommodation should be reclassified as ‘non-domestic’ and charged accordingly. This proposed reclassification would have resulted in the introduction of water charges and a resultant increase in costs for students, as all utility bills (gas, electricity and water) are included in rental fees.
“We reluctantly sought a judicial review of an attempt by Uisce Éireann to reclassify our student accommodation leading to further and higher living costs on our students,” said UL President Professor Kerstin Mey.
“It is unfortunate that the proposal by UL to deal with this matter by way of the internal complaints process, rather than by way of legal action, was not progressed.
“We are now very pleased that Ms. Justice Bolger has found that the supply of water by Uisce Éireann to UL’s student accommodation, during the academic year, is the provision of water services to a ‘dwelling’ and that UÉ is not entitled to charge for this supply.”
“We are already facing a student accommodation crisis in Ireland, which will likely persist for a number of years yet and the advent of new utility costs on our students in their places of residence on campus is something we couldn’t countenance on their behalf,” Professor Mey added.
This action had the full support of UL Student Life, the University’s students’ union body.
The student accommodation at UL comprises of 466 apartments/terraced houses containing individual private bedrooms with access to a kitchen/living area in each residence.
“The position taken by Uisce Éireann in an attempted reclassification of student accommodation was entirely inconsistent with the objective of the National Student Accommodation Strategy in supporting the development of purpose-built student accommodation,” added Professor Mey.
Speaking about the judgement UL Student Life President Ronan Cahill said: “The Student Officer team at UL Student Life welcome the result of this judicial review on Irish Water’s attempt to impose water charges on on-campus accommodation. Not only is it completely unfair but we are also in the height of a cost-of-living crisis. Students are already struggling to pay their rent and bills and any extra charges being introduced would be in our view unjust. We are thankful that the University has fought against this on behalf of our student body and has done so successfully.”