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Your Student House

If you are sharing a house with 3 or more people (not related to you) whilst studying at Uni. then you are living in a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO).

At the moment a landlord does not need planning permission to turn a house into a HMO, but from March they will.  This is known as an Article 4 Direction.

The reasons for implementing the direction are based on imbalanced communities, anti-social behaviour, ‘studentification’ and environmental impact.  All of which, SUSU do a lot of work on and can be resolved by other means.

There’s a consultation happening now about the Supplementary Planning Document, which states how the Article 4 direction will actually work.  Part of this is looking at the standards that HMO accommodation will have to meet.

I’m currently gathering information to write  SUSU’s response to the consultation and I need you!

Some of the things that I have found to highlight are:

  • That we don’t agree with the reasons for it being applied.
  • That the standards document should incorporate the SASSH standards (an accreditation scheme for student housing)
  • Asking whether an Equality Impact Assessment has been conducted and saying that it definitely should be
  • and looking at how the standards can actually be enforced and what the Council will do if they’re not met.

But, what do you think about the Article 4 Direction?

What has your experience been in your student house? Were the standards good or poor?

Have you ever contacted the Council about an issue with your student house? If so, how did you find the service they provided you with?

Please comment on this article or email me on vpwelfare@susu.org by Friday 27th January.

I need your comments to make SUSU’s response stronger!

You can find out more details about this here: http://www.southampton.gov.uk/s-environment/policy/planningdocuments/

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8 Comments on "Your Student House"

  1. Beckie
    Heather
    24/01/2012 at 1:18 pm Permalink

    The one issue we’ve had with our student house is the maintenance of it. We rent our house through an agency and they rang us to tell us we were going to have a new kitchen in over the summer and it would be done in 5 days – never a letter to confirm this though which is what got us into so much crap in the end. 3 months later the kitchen was still not complete and I’d lived in the house for the summer on a camp stove whilst everyone else just didn’t come back because it was so inconvenient. We asked the agency to ask for a reduction in rent for the period and it was met by ‘this isn’t our problem, it’s for you to sort out with the landlord’. We’ve still not had any resolution of it and have run out of time to waste on the matter.

    Why is there not more regulation on lettings agencies too. In all honesty, we handled the situation fairly poorly but we should expect the agency to be doing what’s right rather than taking money and ignoring us. We’ve had this problem numerous times over time we’ve spent with them.We had an emergency with the plumbing in the house and it took a lot of persuading to get someone to come and fix it – when they did come round the workers told us that the agency try to leave the little jobs to keep their costs down. The fact that they’d ignored a little job we told them about previously caused us to have water pouring through our kitchen ceiling, through our boiler and washing machine and flooding the kitchen. It’s idiotic to cut corners with housing like that when the end result costs £100s instead of a few pounds and causes so much stress to everyone involved.

    Finally, why doesn’t the union have somewhere (that is easy to find on the web) where students can feedback their housing experiences for other people to read? We have taken to personally telling people who view our house about the problems we’ve had but really they should just be able to find it out themselves off the internet. The trusted housing list is a start but there needs to be a far more comprehensive resource available for everyone to use.

  2. Beckie
    Frankie
    24/01/2012 at 2:32 pm Permalink

    Hi Heather.

    Thank you very much for commenting.

    I understand your frustration with letting agencies. You’ll probably be pleased to know that SUSU will be setting up it’s own letting agency and we will set standards that landlords need to meet to allow landlords to let with us. Sam Ling, Union President, will be leading on this project so if you have any points that you’d like to bring up with him about the letting agency please get in contact with him on pres@susu.org.

    Your point about having somewhere to feedback about houses is a great idea. A student has recently set up a website called Student Property Gossip, http://www.studentpropertygossip.com/index.php# . This is a great place to feedback your experience in your student house. We will soon be linking to this website from the life tab of the SUSU wesbite under the housing section. http://www.susu.org/life and they will be having a presence at our Housing Week during the w/c 6th February.

    Thanks again for commenting,

    Frankie

  3. Beckie
    Heather
    24/01/2012 at 3:18 pm Permalink

    Good to hear on the susu letting agency front – I think it could take a while to take off but once it’s got a good reputation more people will be willing to trust it!

    The website you linked to is just the kind of thing I was talking about – if susu establish this as the one they endorse then hopefully lots of people will get using it. I guess it’s just a case of advertising it around enough so people know about it.

    Also, another thing – is it possible to get susu to collaborate with this website: http://www.soton.ac.uk/accommodation/privaterented/index.shtml as it seems there’s a big split of info between the union and the university and people could miss one or the other. Something as simple as linking the two pages together (very clearly, not a tiny link at the end of a sentence or something, I’m thinking a big banner or something) will make sure that everyone’s aware of all the information they’ve got available to look at.

  4. Beckie
    Laura Gardner
    24/01/2012 at 3:36 pm Permalink

    We also have a lot of problems with maintenance in our house and I believe that students are charged excessively high fees for private rental, for instance when renting privately as a couple you are charged one admin fee (about £120 the last time I did this) however when renting as a student we all had to pay seperate admin fees and holding fees.

    But I’m guessing our house wouldn’t count as there are 3 of us altogether?

  5. Beckie
    David Gilani
    24/01/2012 at 4:44 pm Permalink

    Our landlord has generally been great. Had no real problems this year and whenever we have, we’ve gone through him and it’s all been sorted quickly.

    With regards to the council, we’ve only had to deal with them a couple of times. And they’ve had great customer service each time.

  6. Beckie
    Chloe
    25/01/2012 at 2:29 pm Permalink

    We’ve never had such a bad time that we had to take it to the council but our landlords have been a bit up and down.

    A bigger agency like Student No-Fee, we found to be good – they were efficient and dealt with our issues almost instantly. Unfortunately our private landlord has now proven to be a bit of an arse – lots of silly rules and regulations, snotty emails, disrespectful communication to us, lack of interest in any house maintenance issues… We haven’t moved out yet but our friends who had the same landlord as us last year said that they were charged £80 out of the deposit because they left dust on a lampshade and a finger print smudge on the bathroom mirror. Absolute daylight robbery!

    Definitely put SASSH criteria on document, that should help with house quality. Can there be any criteria to meet for the landlords themselves? I know that’s a bit of a fantasy but it would be great!

  7. Beckie
    Peter Whiddon
    26/01/2012 at 3:20 pm Permalink

    I had to pay high admin fees and still haven’t really gotten what I paid for. My issues are generally with the estate agents rather than my landlady. My landlady has been great and gets all our issues fixed, I don’t really like her chose of repairman who seems to take months to come round and only after the 5th complaint though he does get the job done.
    The estate agents however charge high fees and just don’t seem to do much. They where a day late in releasing the house to us delaying our move in, not getting anything prepared. the house was still being cleaned and the boiler hadn’t been checked so they won’t give me the keys. They also seem to lose paperwork countless times. One of my housemates has had to fill in the contract twice and keeps getting told she isn’t paying rent but does. For the price you’d imagine they’d at least keep paper work safe and up to date.

  8. Beckie
    Peter Whiddon
    26/01/2012 at 3:31 pm Permalink

    Oh may of got a little carried away there. Article 4 does seem to have it merits… I can understand the reasons for it as for instance adding an extension needs planning permission as it could effect the neighbours so why would changing a 2 occupancy house to 3+ be any different? I’d say giving the right to the families who may share the next premise do deserve the right to know and object.
    The reasons however don’t seem to be a good justification.

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