I write in response to GOYH's invitation for commentary on its
Regional Housing Strategy. I write on behalf of the Yorkshire Region
of the National HMO Lobby - we are a nationwide network of community
associations which are very concerned about the impact on their
communities of developments in the private rented sector, especially
concentrations of HMOs. Our Region comprises members in Leeds, Sheffield
and York. By way of example, I may cite my own area, in and around
Headingley in Leeds, where there has been massive exploitation of
the local housing stock by private landlords (especially in response
to demand for student housing). In 2001, 59% of the population of
Headingley Ward lived in the PRS (compared with 12% nationally)
- by definition therefore this was a transient (dominant) segment
of the local population, leading to major destabilisation.
We offer the following observations on the Questions in your leaflet
A New Regional Housing Strategy for Yorkshire and the Humber.
Q1 Priorities: We strongly support the aspiration to 'successful
neighbourhoods' and 'sustainable communities'. What is important
to recognise is that unsustainability does not only follow from
low demand (as government generally assumes). The housing market
in Headingley, for example, appears to be vibrant - but it is entirely
in response to a transient market, and at the expense of affordability
and stability. At the same time, this market is taking quality family
housing out of the general market. (In many respects, there are
parallels with problems of affordability in rural areas, in consequence
of second-home ownership - which is effectively what student shared
Q2 Targeting: Hysterical markets, like ours, clearly need special
Q3 Policies: If 'studentification' is to be acknowledgement in
the RHS, then the government's policy on HE expansion is clearly
relevant. As you may know, a Student Housing Project has been set
up by the LGA and UUK, to identify the problem and examples of good
Q4 Gaps: The leaflet mentions both 'older people' and 'sustainability'.
In our case, it is both the demands of younger people (especially
students), and the implications of their demand for sustainability,
which we would wish to see acknowledged (and hopefully addressed)
by the RHS.
Q5-6 Sub-Areas: The student housing market is highly localised,
not only within university towns like Leeds, Sheffield and York,
but within particular areas of these towns.
Q7-8 Private Sector: A parasitical element of the private sector
(speculators investing in existing properties) has generated our
problem. But another element of the private sector (in collaboration
with HEIs) may well assist its solution: many developers (like UNITE)
are interested in providing for the student housing market with
purpose-built accommodation. Suitably located, such accommodation
can ease the problems we experience.
Q9 Innovation: In Headingley, we wish to explore the possibility
of using Community Land Trusts to intervene in the market, in order
to sustain sustainable communities (as has been done in some rural
areas, eg in Wales, and as is proposed in London). Any support the
RHS was able to provide would be very valuable.
Q10 Replacement: One of our fears is that the exploitation of properties
by some landlords may lead to the need to replace them.
Q11-13 Outcomes: The National HMO Lobby strongly supports your
first high-level objective, "contributing to the sustainability
of communities by making them places where people want to come and
Q14 RHS: We hope that our perspective, specific though it is, may
be acknowledged in the RHS.
Best wishes, Dr Richard Tyler, Yorkshire Co-ordinator, National
National HMO Lobby