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Council crackdown on student accommodation

first_imgOxford City Council is proposing a crackdown on student accommodation which is likely to result in a freeze in the number of available student houses in Oxford East. Other student accomodation will become subject to spot-checks. The Council plans to introduce new system whereby every landlord wishing to rent to students must apply for a licence. However it has also announced that it plans to refuse all planning permission applications for proposed student houses in Oxford East. Since these applications are a legal necessity for the licence to be obtained, this means that no houses there which are not already used by students will be able to be converted.If the proposals are accepted, houses where three or more unrelated people live together, known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), will also be subject to spot checks by the council. They will set standards for student accommodation and revoke licences from landlords whose properties are not up to scratch.The new initiative will affect around 5,000 properties across the city. The consultation concerning HMOs will be completed next month and it is expected to turn out in favour of the proposals.New legislation introduced in April means that those who want to convert their properties into HMOs will have to seek planning permission.While landlords who already own HMOs will not have to apply for planning permission, the Council have said they will not give planning permission for any proposed HMOs in the East Oxford HMO planning area.One local landlord said that she has not been able to obtain planning permission to convert a property in East Oxford into student accommodation, leaving four students potentially homeless next year.She said, “We are in legal limbo. I have a contract with these students which the Council is making it impossible for me to fulfill. Since the change in legislation came too late for my prospective tenants to find anywhere else to live next year, I can only hope that common sense prevails at the Council and we are at least allowed to work through pre-existing arrangements.” Students are concerned that lack of housing could push rents up and make finding a place to live harder.One second year student at St. Hilda’s said, “At lots of colleges you have to live out for at least a year. Finding somewhere to live is hard enough as it is, as competition is so fierce for the best properties. Rent is already too high and I’m worried properties close to town will be too expensive now.” However, the council insists the main objective of the plan is not to force students out. Oxford City Council’s health development manager Ian Wright said, “The main intention is to improve conditions within the properties and improve the management of them by the landlord.”Wright did admit to the Observer newspaper that “studentification” in Oxford is a problem, saying, “A lot of local residents have been quite alarmed about how studentification has affected their community. We know it’s been one of the top topics on the doorstep for local councillors.” Second year Modern Languages student James Mead welcomes the crackdown. He said, “I think this is a great idea. I’m very lucky in terms of my landlord – he is obviously keen to maintain his property for us and ultimately for himself in the long run.“I do, however, have friends who are treated very badly by landlords who never bother to reply to complaints or questions. They live in run down properties which are not maintained and not are fit for renting but students have no other choice. Giving the council such powers can only be positive in my eyes.”last_img read more