National HMO Lobby


National HMO

What is a HMO?
Local HMO Plans
Ten Point Plan


Leeds HMO Lobby

National Developments
Sustainable Communities
Use Classes Order
HMO Licensing
Taxation of HMOs
Students & Community

National HMO Lobby



Keeping the Peace
Discussion Document

1. Problems
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 incident.
# 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.

2. Policies
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 accommodation.
# 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 2006, p174).

3. Principles
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 carried out.

National HMO Lobby
January 2006


National HMO Lobby
email: website: