Growth of student housing and other shared accommodation causing concern in Norwich
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
A bid to curb the increase in the numbers of shared houses - often used by students - is being investigated by Norwich city council.
In a report to the council's sustainable development panel yesterday officers said that Norwich, like most cities with a large student population, has a large number of
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
'Without HMOs, many people would not be able to afford to live in Norwich. However the growth in HMOs in some areas has led people to believe that their communities are becoming unbalanced, because the number of short-term tenants with less established community ties has grown too large.
'The main issues raised relate to the appearance of properties and anti-social behaviour,' said the report.
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The panel agreed to look at ways of slowing the increase of the dwellings, by encouraging the building of more purpose-built flats and bedsits and student accommodation, and to assess an option of voluntary licensing agreements.
The lack of affordable housing means many more adults, not only students, are living in shared accommodation.
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Nelson ward, in the Golden Triangle, has the highest concentration of both student and non-student HMOs in Norwich with 16.2pc of houses in the area in shared use.
One of the councillors for the ward, Tim Jones, said: 'Residents in Nelson ward aren't hugely against students themselves, but are against the issues that packing increasing numbers of students into overloaded properties can create.
'Students can sometimes be a bit lax with jobs like taking rubbish bins off the pavements after collection,' he added.
Mr Jones, a tutor at UEA, believes students are generally good neighbours, but said: 'Problems emerge when students suddenly find themselves taking sole responsibility for managing a house without any experience of how to do so in a way that's conscientious to neighbours.'
But the issue is not limited to student housing in the Golden Triangle, with a growing number of HMOs in areas across the city.
Steve Barker, director of Abode, a lettings and property management company several HMOs in Norwich, said: 'Almost all of our properties are lived in by professionals.'
'In the three years we have been running there has been a massive increase in demand for HMOs. There is a lack of decent housing in Norwich. People cannot afford to buy their own places or rent a whole house so they look for shared accommodation instead.'
Peter Davis, chief executive officer of the Eastern Landlords Association, said: 'From a landlord's point of view HMOs are often more profitable than a family let.'
He added that a landlord renting a house to a family in Norwich could expect to get around £600 per month, whereas renting to three professionals copuld bring in around £750.
A student's view – Sophie Loach from the University of East Anglia
As is the nature of stereotypes, what may apply to one individual does not mean it applies to all.
To regard all students with the same swift 'tut' of disapproval is misjudged.
Having lived in many student houses, I can appreciate that some students are hard to live around. Some are noisy, some never take the bins out, some have showers at 3am for no discernible reason.
However, now living in a non-student flat, I can concede that all types of people can be hard to live around. I get woken up at 6am by children needing breakfast, and my upstairs neighbour seems to get a kick out of only putting his washing on in the depths of night.
My generation is growing up in an economy that massively disenfranchises them. A large part of the reason that students house-share is because housing is so expensive – and many of us already have a horrifying debt to pay off.
With the dramatic increase in student fees, university is at risk of becoming more and more elitist. If students can no longer access affordable housing on top of that, then they simply won't be able to go.
As a community, we should support our students because they are swimming against the tide to make the best future for themselves, and ultimately, the best future for the country.
• What are you experiences of living near shared houses? Email firstname.lastname@example.org