Landlords of student properties could be prevented from creating HMOs, (Houses in Multiple Occupation), out of ‘family’ homes reported The Argus last Friday. This review of student housing comes as a result of the meetings that happened before Christmas between students, Brighton residents and Brighton and Hove city Council members. The meetings addressed the mounting hostility between students and their neighbours with plans to tackle it. Last October the Government issued a report on university cities investigating how housing in these heavily populated student areas was affected. The result being that HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) were seen as one of the causes.
The review aims to stop the “studentification”, a term coined by Dr. Darren Smith of the University of Brighton, in a move to try and improve relations between Brighton and Hove residents and students. This strategy, that aims to tackle the problems of studentification, is being put together by a team of Brighton and Hove City Council, the Universities, housing partners, primary care trust, businesses, landlords and estate agents.
While the plans aim to stop the increasing “student ghettos”, they are also to trying to investigate new ways to house the ever increasing numbers of students flocking to Brighton every year. Since 2004 the amount of student properties in Brighton has risen from 2000 to 3000 in order to meet the demand.
The Argus quoted Conservative Councillor Mary Mears as saying, “This strategy will give us practical ways of improving each area and developing purpose-built accommodation for students that would also improve communities”.
But what effect will the banning of HMOs have on students? USSU Welfare officer, Richa Kaul-Padte comments, “Essentially, I don’t necessarily see this as having a negative impact, because the problem is that many ‘family homes’ that are converted into ‘student houses’ do not meet HMO regulations. So you often get 4 students living in a house meant, at best, for 3, with a non-existent garden because they have had to ‘convert’ it. This then could lead to them having nowhere to put the rubbish out, with this, in turn, angering neighbours.”
There are concerns that by removing these HMOs the cost of student housing will increase further, in what is already a delicate housing market. The Badger asked Richa Kaul-Padte if she could shed any light on the subject, she comments: “I do seriously hope this doesn’t negatively impact either the rate of rent, or the amount of properties available to students. I would also hope the Council makes sure HMO regulations are in place for all houses that are rented. Unfortunately, I think the Council views this as a way to appease residents who are angry about student ‘ghettos’, rather than a means to make sure that students are housed in accommodation of acceptable standards.”
The residents of Brighton and Hove certainly are angry about the “student ghettos”, which is only too evident from the comments left on The Argus website after their article was published last Friday. Some of the comments recognised that it was not all students and only a minority who were disturbing their area, while others took a more negative approach towards students. One comment left last Friday read: “I am going to dump my rubbish in their bins now, as despite being a load of soya bean eaters, banging on about carbon footprints, they spend their time filling bins and not recycling and taking up the roads with their shiny new cars.” This comment suggests that it might take more than a reduction in HMOs to improve relations between students and other Brighton residents.