And the new ‘Use Classes Orders’ will also affect other tenant groups who share houses – including young professionals, key workers and low income migrants.
Now landlords could need planning permission to rent out a house or flat, previously occupied by a single person or family, to a group of between three or more unrelated tenants.
Landlords view this as a major threat – not only to an entire sector of the shared housing market but also to the local economies that have grown around them to serve their needs. Restaurants, bars, shops and convenience stores are all coming under threat as the Use Classes Orders attempt to dictate who can live where.
So the RLA has responded with the biggest campaign in its history – centring on parliamentary lobbying, a section on its website – www.rla.org.uk – and an online petition that pulled more than 2,000 signatures in less than a week – http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/noplanningchange.
Last year the RLA teamed up with the National Union of Students to attack the proposals and now officers at all UK universities are being briefed about the unfair discrimination that students will face when they want to rent a house or flat.
That’s why students are being invited to join a Facebook group to show support for the campaign. “We are keen to remind politicians that students have votes too,” says Humberside student landlord Jason Coleman.
The sole aim of the Facebook group, says RLA chairman Alan Ward, is “to support the freedom of students to live wherever they want and stop this blatant government discrimination against them.
“Rushed law is always bad law … and using planning laws for social engineering purposes is just plain wrong! At the moment it’s the country’s 2.5 million students who are mainly affected but the same legislation could be aimed at nurses, young professionals, even elderly people and other apparently ‘second class citizens’ who local authorities decide shouldn’t be allowed to live too close together.
“Relatively few towns and cities have problems with high concentrations of shared housing – known as ‘houses in multiple occupation’. Student housing in particular affects an estimated 0.7% cent of wards in England. Even fewer pose any sort of problem. So why penalise the other 99.3% of the English wards with this punitive new legislation?
“The government has been keen to boast of their success at raising University student numbers over the last ten years but has failed to make any policy provision for where they live.
“The only realistic alternative is to build purpose built student blocks which will be at least 25% more expensive than existing student shared housing and is contrary to the NUS advice on what students want and what they can afford.
“A mere 600 local residents have complained of problems with student communities – so the government over-reacts with a move that hits 2.5 million students, two million young professionals and another two million migrants as well as countless key workers and others who desperately need an available stock of low cost housing.
“This government sledgehammer is inappropriate, disproportionate, discriminatory, totally anti-democratic and contravenes the equal opportunities and human rights of these groups which desperately need affordable homes and honest representation.”
• The Facebook site is:
THE STUDENT VOTE! – STOP GOVERNMENT DISCRIMINATION ON STUDENT LIVING! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2249360785&v=info&edit_info=all#!/group.php?gid=2249360785&ref=search&sid=502208958.718410599..1
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