In 2017, we launched our
Living at the Limit Campaign which pushes for a fairer and more accessible local rental market for our students. Through consultation with the student body, the Union has devised 6 key points; this is our housing manifesto.
'Light touch' regulation is no longer appropriate for the rental market
Low regulation only works when there is sufficient competition to enforce standards up. With a shortage of available housing, landlords can compete in a race to the bottom. Minimum standards for property rentals need to be revised. There is not even any requirement for a room to have a window for example. We know of students having to sleep in garages, kitchens, basements – and this is all within the law. The Prime Minister believes that further regulation on landlords would be an 'excessive burden'. We say legal protection against exploitation should not be regarded as needless red tape.
Purpose built student accommodation is needed
Guildford already has several thousand units of purpose built student accommodation, however many students still cannot access these. Multi storey halls of residence provide an efficient way of providing good quality, practical, affordable student accommodation. The same physical footprint can house many more students in well-designed halls, than the equivalent amount of family housing. This means less space is occupied with student housing and this then frees up more family housing for non-student residents.
Students are residents
The simplest definition of a Guildford resident, is one who resides in Guildford. There should be no preference or hierarchy, implicit or implied that those born in Guildford, those who work in Guildford, those who own property in Guildford, come before those Guildford residents who happen to be students. While students live in Guildford, can vote in Guildford, and work in Guildford, then they are residents of Guildford in the same way as anybody else. There should be no discrimination on the grounds of their student status.
Houses are for living, not investment
In any area with such a rapid increase in housing prices (almost 600% since 1995) houses inevitably become more attractive as a safe haven for investment and are no longer seen as homes. Guildford needs homes, and cannot just be a safe haven for those needing to keep their money safe.
The community is more than housing
While there is a need for more housing, as we have already seen in cities like London, this risks the heritage and culture being swept away in favour of new banal housing developments. A thriving community needs more than just somewhere to live, but community facilities, diverse cultural activities, affordable transport links, and a healthy environment in which to live.
Introduce Rent Controls
By the governments own admission the housing market in England is 'broken', and with no functioning market, profiteering is rife amongst the rental sector. This is having the perverse effect of those with the most in our society and who can afford multiple properties, taking as much money as possible from those in our society with the least. To profiteer on such a scale from the most basic human need is shameful and scandalous. The government must act on its own failures by protecting the worst off with mandatory rent controls.
Click here to find out more about Living At The Limit, or download our full report here.