Union fights Council over student housing

hmo student housing

The Union is fighting a Council proposal that will change the provision of student houses in Hyde Park and Headingley.

The plans, approved by Leeds City Council in 2011 and still being developed, are designed to restrict the future conversion of properties into ‘houses of multiple occupancy’ (HMOs) – the legal term for the houses most students live in.

While the proposals will not affect current student housing, it is thought the proposals will have future impact in Hyde Park and Headingley. Community Officer Ben Fisher has submitted a series of amendments based on the impact the proposal would have on the student community.

He said, “The council’s policies still don’t seem to reflect the reality of housing trends in the area. They don’t address the core issues that residents of Hyde Park and Headingley face and could be detrimental to these areas in the long-term”.

Leeds Student also contacted the Leeds HMO Lobby, which favours the council’s approach. Co-ordinator, Dr Richard Tyler said, “It’s worth noting that Leeds is by no means unique in its approach to student housing. Many other university towns are taking similar approaches. And they are doing so with the support of housing ministers, from both the present and the previous governments.”

He added, “Put succinctly, when there is a finite number of houses available in the city, the choice is: first homes for families, or second homes for students”.

Dr Tyler also claimed that the proposals as such “will have no impact on Headingley and Hyde Park” and cited the surplus of bed-spaces in student houses as a reason why the changes in policy would not adversely affect students.

He added “There is indeed a problem for a number of residents who are unable to sell their houses, because they cannot be converted to HMOs, and they are not attractive to other residents, as they are in student-dominated areas. This is the unfortunate consequence of the Council’s lack of powers to control student HMO development for many years.”

While the Council has already agreed the proposal ‘in principle’, they have yet to decide on the details of how it will be enforced. The latest proposals are due to be sent to government for consideration and approval later this year.

Words: Phil Mann
Photo: Leo Garbutt

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