What is a HMO?
Local HMO Plans
Ten Point Plan
Leeds HMO Lobby
Use Classes Order
Taxation of HMOs
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
Keeping the Peace
On the night of Saturday 29 October 2005, students from both Leeds
University and Leeds Met, sharing a house at 5 Hessle Mount in South
Headingley, held a house-party which escalated into a street-party,
eventually attracting 400 party-goers, a mobile sound system, and
lasting until 8am the following morning (‘Hyde Party’,
Leeds Student, 4 Nov 05). Most university towns could provide
similar examples. Such incidents are not typical of student behaviour.
But nor are they exceptional. Rather, they are symptomatic of the
low-level antisocial behaviour which is an endemic problem
in neighbourhoods like Headingley, in the shadow of the local university.
And they are indicative of a whole series of failures. In Leeds,
for instance -
# Individual students failed to consider the well-being
of their neighbourhood.
# Student organisations failed to respond responsibly:
Leeds Student’s report extolled the party; and despite requests,
neither students union made any public attempt to respond to the
# The universities failed to demonstrate any adequate procedures:
Leeds University sent a letter to the students; otherwise, a complete
public silence appeared to condone the event.
Of course, antisocial behaviour can arise in most neighbourhoods.
But by definition, it is not the norm. ASB has become endemic in
areas like Headingley because the population is now dominated, not
only by young adults, but by a population which is seasonal and
continuously transient. This dominance in turn has arisen from the
recent rapid expansion of Higher Education. It is the National HMO
Lobby’s purpose to attempt to address the root problem, and
to propose policies to do so.
# Student recruitment, explosive in the last decade, is
the underlying cause. The Lobby supports the principle of wider
access to HE, which lies behind this explosion – but opposes
continued expansion unless it accompanied by the provision of equivalent
# Student accommodation, left to the private rented sector
(in the absence of adequate institutional provision), is the vehicle
for high concentrations of shared student houses (houses in multiple
occupation, or HMOs), in most university towns. This is the principal
concern of the Lobby, and to this end, we have campaigned since
our origins in 2000 for effective national legislation (especially
revision of the Use Classes Order). Meanwhile, our member groups
have campaigned for local action (like ASHORE in Leeds), in order
to avert concentrations of student housing.
# Student discipline is the final resort. It is pointless
unless the root causes are tackled – but it is essential if
amenity is to be preserved at all in the mean time. Leeds HMO Lobby
has promoted a Community Code, ‘Say hello, Keep the
peace, Clean up’ (see The Times Good University Guide
Student discipline is the responsibility especially of those organisations
responsible for one or other aspect of higher education locally.
On behalf of the local communities which it represents, and which
experience the consequences of the lack of discipline, the National
HMO Lobby proposes five guiding principles
to these organisations.
# Visibility It is essential that any disciplinary
process is visible to the local community – so that
they can see clearly how to invoke it, and also so that they can
see its effects.
# Co-ordination It is essential that the responsible
organisations are co-ordinated. Residents are not able
to distinguish between students from different institutions, nor
between the remits of the different organisations involved. Universities
and their students unions should work together, local universities
should co-operate, and all should work with landlords through local
accreditation schemes (like Unipol).
# Expedition It is essential that action is speedy.
ASB is unpleasant, prolonged ASB becomes unbearable. Disciplinary
procedures must be able to move swiftly enough to nip indiscipline
in the bud.
# Escalation The initial sanction for ASB should
have significant weight (a letter is inadequate). And this needs
to be followed by a sequence of graded sanctions, which
indicate that the organisations concerned take the issue seriously.
# Credibility It is essential that any disciplinary
process is credible, both to students and to the local
community. This will be achieved only if, first of all, there is
a quick, effective and co-ordinated process; secondly, if this process
is visible to all concerned – and finally, if it is actually
National HMO Lobby
National HMO Lobby