According to a recent posting from the Accomodation for Students news breifing, the university in York has joined local landlords in opposing the introduction of an article 4 directive to limit the number of HMOs in the city. Hundreds of landlords and letting agents are angry that the council wants to limit their businesses, while residents support the proposals after years of protests against problems generated from student houses. Now, the University of York has joined landlords in claiming the council policy could adversely affect efforts to attract students who spend locally and improve the city’s economy.
Pro-vice chancellor Elizabeth Heaps has written to a councillor leading the HMO objectors claiming sufficient powers are already available to tackle isolated HMO problems. She also pointed out many students liked to live in shared digs for at least some of the time they were at the university. She also explained the university was a major employer and its continued success depended on its abilities to recruit students - and that the proposal to limit student lets could be detrimental to the city. “We believe that the council already has sufficient powers under the 2004 Housing Act to tackle any isolated problems caused by the very small minority of irresponsible landlords, tenants and/or mismanaged properties,” Ms Heaps wrote.
“We will be making a constructive input into these discussions, stressing the importance of the university’s success to the well-being of the city’s economy.” Meanwhile, the council is considering a deal to sell off Union terrace, a city centre car park in a multi-million deal that will include the expansion of York St John University. The university expects to grow student numbers to 8,000 over the next four years. York St John is looking at plans for more academic space, sport and recreational facilities for students and the public, and more student accommodation.
This is not the first local authority that has triggered a united front on this issue between students, university administration and private landlords; St Andrews in Scotland had a similar reaction from academia. It will be interesting to see if the universities in Oxford are prepared to stick their heads above the parapets and risk aligning with the PRS here in Oxford.