What is a HMO?
Local HMO Plans
Ten Point Plan
Leeds HMO Lobby
Use Classes Order
Taxation of HMOs
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
National Union of Students
Students in the Community
Working together in harmony
NUS, London, June 2007
The NUS Report Students
in the Community was the outcome
of a Roundtable Think Tank in London,
1-2 March 2007, with contributions
from the National HMO Lobby, and was launched on 11 June 2007. It
is available on the NUS website.
The Lobby issued a News Release before
the launch, and sent a letter of objection
to the authors afterwards.
NATIONAL HMO LOBBY
News Release, 5 June 2007
NUS: Not Under Stood
On 11 June, the National Union of Students (NUS) launches its new
Report on Students in the Community. As a national network, representing
communities in university (and other) towns throughout the UK, the
National HMO Lobby welcomes the Report. After many years of campaigning,
it is rewarding to the Lobby that (following the universities) NUS
has now acknowledged that serious issues arise between students
at university and their host communities. At the same time, the
Lobby is frustrated that NUS has indulged in scaremongering in the
Report, raising quite irrelevant issues. And the Lobby is deeply
disappointed that NUS has simply not under stood the real problem
- which is not 'students in the community' but rather 'students
in stead of the community.'
No-one denies the good works that a number of students do in the
community (least of all the National HMO Lobby). However, there
is no denying that young adults, away from home for the first time,
can sometimes be difficult neighbours. The Report accepts this.
And it points out that around the country, numerous Students Unions
have been inventive in finding ways to tackle these problems. (The
Lobby's own guidance is a simple Community Code: Say hello! keep
the peace! clean up!) The National HMO Lobby warmly welcomes this
initiative by NUS.
But at the same time, the Lobby is seriously frustrated by the
false bogeymen raised by NUS. Communities are accused of discriminating
against students and "labelling them outsiders." No representative
community organisation has done so. The Lobby's concern has always
been for equal opportunities for residents, in the face of intense
pressure from student demand for local resources. And again, communities
are accused of seeking to use "national legislation to restrict
the number of students living in some parts of cities." Again,
this is false, and no representative community organisation has
done so. Certainly, the Lobby has campaigned for changes in planning
legislation. But this has been to enable local authorities effectively
to manage housing developments at a time of national shortage -
and especially, to resist the conversion of family homes into seasonal
second homes - whoever the occupants are.
But the Report is most disappointing in its failure to acknowledge
the real problem posed by students 'in' the community. In fact,
if students are really in the community, then there is no real problem
- student houses scattered among the normal diversity of a community
only add to that diversity, and are welcomed. But in so many suburbs
in university towns around the country, this is not what has happened.
University expansion has been so huge, the demand for student accommodation
has been so intense, university provision has been so low, council
powers have been so weak - that whole neighbourhoods have become
student colonies - Headingley in Leeds, Lenton in Nottingham, Brynmill
in Swansea, and so on, and so on. It is not unusual for whole streets
to become almost entirely student houses - not in the community,
but in stead of the community. A new term has been coined for this
phenomenon, studentification (used even by the universities themselves).
'Studentification' is completely different from 'students in the
community.' Studentification devastates the local community, and
produces a quantum leap in local problems (crime, squalor, a resort
economy). Without addressing the cause, attempts to tackle the effects
are doomed to failure. Yet the NUS Report denies the difference
between the diversity of 'students in the community' and the homogenisation
'NUS has long been in denial about studentification,' says Dr Richard
Tyler, Co-ordinator of the National HMO Lobby. 'The Lobby had hoped
that the new Report would set the record straight. Despite its aspiration
of "working together", it's symptomatic that no community
representative is billed to speak at the launch. The Lobby remains
deeply diaappointed that NUS has simply not under stood what the
real problem is.
Working together in harmony
From: National HMO Lobby
To: National Union of Students
Date: 14 June 2007
To Veronica King, Vice-President Welfare, and Agnes Gautier, Research
& Policy Officer, National Union of Students
You have made an instant travesty of Working together in harmony,
the sub-title of the NUS Report Students in the Community. There
wasn't much 'working together' at the launch of the Report on 11
June. And there's certainly little 'harmony' in a Report which perpetrates
falsehoods about the National HMO Lobby.
The Report misrepresents the representations by the National HMO
Lobby. In the Focus panel on page 16, the following is said: "Some
councils and lobbies, such as the HMO lobby, have called for Use
Classes Orders to be used to restrict the numbers of HMOs (Houses
in Multiple Occupation) being built offering accommodation to students.
This would mean using planning permission to restrict a certain
category of the population (students) to live somewhere."
That would be the meaning - if the National HMO Lobby had ever
said such a thing. That however is completely false. The Lobby has
never called for the use of the UCO to restrict any category of
the population. Do you have any evidence at all for this (false)
accusation? What the Lobby has called for, is amendment of the UCO
- first, to provide adequate definition of HMO (which would benefit
all concerned), and second, to change their classification. The
Lobby has never made reference anywhere to the occupants of HMOs.
In fact, that is precisely why the Lobby is concerned with HMOs,
and not with any class of occupant (if you were better informed,
you would know that we campaign on HMOs in a wide range of contexts,
not only student HMOs). This point was made in a commentary on the
Draft Report, emailed to Agnes on 9 April. (By the way, the Use
Classes Order is concerned with change of use, not with newly built
In the same panel, you also refer to ASHORE in Leeds. The Inspector
did decide against this policy proposal. But he replaced it with
an Area of Housing Mix - which does in fact explicitly "restrain
housing in one area." Student housing will now be given permission
in the Area only on the basis of five stringent conditions. (The
Lobby's own recommendation was that this policy should refer to
On page 27 reference is made to the Direction on Letting Boards
in Leeds. This measure was in fact the result of six years campaigning
by residents (not two), and at no point did students 'combine' with
residents. This correction was also made in the commentary mentioned
On both occasions when Leeds is mentioned in the Report, the account
turns out to be inaccurate. You also give examples from Birmingham,
Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Liverpool, Loughborough, Nottingham, Reading
and York. It is difficult to have any confidence that these are
any more accurate.
We expect to disgree with NUS over some issues. We are resigned
to NUS being in denial over the reality of studentification. But
we will not tolerate lies about the Lobby.
The National HMO Lobby formally requests the National Union of
Students to publish a correction and apology in a prominent position
on the home page of its website for a period of at least one month.
Dr Richard Tyler, Co-ordinator, National HMO Lobby
No action has yet been taken.
National HMO Lobby