Accommodation / Housing

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1. Investigate a student union/s owned and run letting agency

25th November 2014. (424th Meeting Union Council)
Responsible officer: Community

Investigate a Student Union/s Owned and Run Letting Agency

What is the policy?

  • The Student Union should investigate in detail and produce a report on a Student Union Run Letting Agency in Nottingham that would be the first port of call for students searching for accommodation in Nottingham.

The investigation should include:

  • An Accreditation scheme as part of the Letting Agency looking at factors such as, energy efficiency, insulation, energy or heat generation technology such as solar panels or solar cells and other factors.
  • A separate Accreditation scheme focused around Disabled Accessibility and Usability of homes.
  • Investigate a structure containing a panel of directly democratically elected students from the student body plus other structures with an emphasis on student democratic control and accountability.
  • Feasibility of vetting all homes individually (investigate if volunteers could be found through various volunteering schemes and being part of the role of students who are elected to some form of committee).
  • The Student Union should approach the Nottingham Trent Student Union to investigate a joint venture and push a joint venture with Nottingham Trent as it would in likelihood increase the effectiveness of Student Union/s intervention in the housing market via a Letting Agency to raise housing standards plus potentially share the costs involved.
  • There should be communication with Further Education Institutions in Nottingham to see if there is any interest and potential in a joint venture there also.
  • Investigate if the Letting Agency should be totally Online or if there is also potential for space in the revamped Portland building for a walk in letting agency that would also be an office for the letting agency.

Why?

  • A student-run lettings agency would give students direct democratic control over minimum standards for accommodation.
  • There is existing evidence of success in student-run lettings agencies, including run in cities where two or more universities run the agencies as joint ventures:
    • Cardiff
    • Birmingham
    • Glamorgan
    • Belfast
    • York
    • Leicester
    • Aberystwyth
    • Liverpool
    • Norwich
    • Bristol
    • Reading
    • … to name a few!
  • University of Nottingham’s latest research shows that only 42% of all students rate their accommodation as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value for money.
  • It also showed that half those students living in private rented houses/flats had experienced minor or major problems with landlords/letting agents.
  • Of these issues, students said their accommodation problems had a satisfactory outcome only 39% of the time.
  • The top 10 things students would like to change were:
    • Prefer more responsive management with fewer rules
    • Poor value for money
    • Too much noise and disruption
    • Poor location
    • Poor communal area
    • Inadequate security and safety procedures
    • Poor decoration and state of repair
    • Poor telecom and internet provision
    • Poor appliances and furniture
    • Inadequate bedroom size