UK students choose co-op solutions to tackle issues within the housing market

23 Mar 2018

Student housing co-operatives from across the UK have joined together to launch a national body. Student Co-op Homes will focus on addressing problems in the student-housing sector.

The student housing co-op movement took off with the establishment of the first co-op in Birmingham in 2014. Students currently own and manage houses or halls of residence in Edinburgh, Sheffield and Birmingham, and other groups of students across the UK are looking at doing the same.

Mike Shaw, a founding member of Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative, said: “There is no landlord – we are the landlords. We are in charge. We are democratically run by our members. We provide better quality housing and we are able to bring costs right down to offer cheaper housing.”

Rent at Edinburgh Student Housing Co-op is 30% cheaper than the average student rents in the city.

“Not only is it cheaper but the money you’re paying is going towards the upkeep of the house which leads to a much higher quality of accommodation,” added Mr Shaw.

Student Co-op Homes plans to increase the national capacity of student housing co-ops from 150 to 10,000 beds within the next five years. They received help when setting up from Students for Co-operation (the national federation of student co-operatives) and Co-operatives UK, the national trade body for all co-ops.

Scott Jennings, board member of Students for Co-operation, said: “The establishment of Student Co-op Homes is essential to the growth of this sector. We have one point of investment, we have a plan. We can buy in batches around the country and we can grow. We can actually take on the landlords and the problem system that we are living under.”

Neil Turton, Chief Operating Officer at Co-operatives UK, added: “Co-operatives UK is excited to be at the forefront – developing cheaper and better quality student housing across the UK. This is a key aspect of the National Co-op Development Strategy, launched last year, which sees ‘replication’ as a significant development opportunity for the co-op sector. By incubating Student Co-op Homes we will drive the growth of student co-op housing for the benefit of current university students, and for those in decades to come.”

Photo: Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative members (c) Co-operatives UK