Community share offer aims to create vibrant student co-op housing market

Via Co-op News 

‘The more we raise, the more properties we can buy – and the more students will benefit from living in student housing co-ops’


National body Student Co-op Homes (SCH) is today (10 October) launching a community share offer that aims to grow a vibrant co-op housing market in the UK – and cultivate the next generation of co-operators.

Today’s students in higher education face increasing pressure, debt and mental health challenges, it says, arguing that student housing co-ops are a solution that can break the cycle of high-cost, poor-quality private rents that drive up debt and exacerbate poor health.

“Housing co-ops are affordable, not-for-profit homes that students manage and maintain themselves,” it said. “There are no landlords and everyone works together for mutual benefit. They provide the conditions to nurture new generations of resilient, healthy graduates who can enter the workforce and shape society from a stronger position.”

There are currently three student housing co-ops operating in the UK – in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield. Already, graduates from these co-ops have gone on to form co-operative enterprises and live and work in co-ops.

Other student housing co-ops have been set up in Glasgow, Nottingham and Brighton but are struggling to buy property in a competitive market. SCH is launching the community share offer to raise up to £2,000,000 from investors so it can buy properties to lease to these student housing co-ops at affordable rates. It is SCH’s ambition is to increase the number of beds offered in student housing co-ops from 120 to 10,000.

Fay Arnold, who lived in a student co-op house in Birmingham, said she had armed herself with valuable life skills, as well as a degree in computer systems engineering.

“The amount of DIY, admin and finance knowledge I’ve learned, it’s amazing,” she added. “I can reasonably do most simple DIY with no sweat now.

“It’s something I’m really happy about. And they’re skills I can use further down the line, and to teach to other people.”

Vivian Woodell, director of Student Co-op Homes, said: “We are urging people and organisations to invest in our share offer so we can raise vital funds to break the cycle of poor-quality, high-cost student rents and vastly improve the lives of young people in higher education.

“The more we raise, the more properties we can buy – and the more students will benefit from living in student housing co-ops that give them valuable life skills, better physical and mental health, less debt and a better start to their working lives.”

Student Co-op Homes has been supported by Co-operatives UK, the national trade body for co-ops. Ed Mayo, secretary general, said: “It’s not just for the students’ benefit, the housing co-ops are helping to shape a group of graduates who are ready to enter the workforce with experience in community and co-operative values. They are the next generation of co-operators who can help to shape a fairer, more just economy to benefit us all.”

Community share offers are a popular approach to raising finance, in which people and organisations invest large or small sums of money and become co-owners of vital enterprises – from affordable housing to community pubs to green energy.

The SCH community share offer is now live at Follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook @NoMoreLandlords.


Tenants Rights discussion with Living Rent & the Greens


We were really glad to be invited to the Glasgow University Scottish Greens’ event Tenants’ Rights: Rents, Housing, and Alternatives in Glasgow on Monday evening. An activist from Living Rent was there to tell us about the development of Scotland’s tenants union, and their recent direct action around fungus-plagued PRS homes, and local Green councillor Christy Mearns talked about the possible future of Rent Pressure Zones in Glasgow.

It’s always exciting to learn about the different strands of housing action working in tandem to change the position of tenants, and the discussion on Monday brought up a lot of the potential challenges and opportunities on the horizon. It’s hard not to be cynical about the housing situation in our city, but imagining a future where good quality affordable housing is the norm, more tenants are taking control through co-ops, comprehensive rent controls stop the unlivable PRS inflation, and our housing needs are prioritized over profit-motive, makes it easier to engage with the work that needs done to get there. There’s definitely the will and energy to tackle the problems so many of us face renting, and seeing the country’s tenants’ union keep growing to new strengths and the policy debate widening to consider a first step towards rent control reaffirms our belief in our collective ability to push for and actualize our goals.

While Living Rent and the potential Rent Pressure Zones (the council is undertaking a feasibility study, to be completed in 2018) are oriented more towards changing the private renting, and the Glasgow Student Housing Co-op towards creating alternatives to the PRS, we reckon both approaches are key to undermining the current widespread situation – the centering of power in the hands of landlords to the serious detriment of tenants. We’ll definitely be following the progress of both, and look forward to all the possibilities for co-operation among everyone fighting for better housing in Glasgow!

How our meetings work

The Glasgow Student Housing Co-op meets every week to go over any business related to the project. We usually meet on the Glasgow University campus and go over an agenda that has been compiled before the meeting. Any member can bring any business and/or concerns they believe are important. Meetings last anywhere between an hour to two hours, depending on how much needs to be discussed. We like to keep our meetings short and to the point and sometimes go for a pint after to catch up. Our meetings are open to the public so if you are a student and want to find out more about what we do and why we do it just check our facebook page ‘Glasgow Student Housing Co-op’ for the time, date and venue of our next meeting. We’d love to see you there!