Lincoln students oppose possible ban on multiple-occupancy housing

The two city universities students’ unions have started up a campaign opposing a ban on multiple-occupancy housing (HMOs) around Lincoln, which the City Council is consulting on.

The University of Lincoln Students’ Union and Bishop Grosseteste Students’ Union have set up a counter campaign and petition opposing the implementation of Article 4.

The campaign, headed by Lincoln SU President Brian Alcorn and Olivia Hill, Vice-President Welfare & Community, comes after the City of Lincoln Council took a look into the amount of HMOs in the city, following concerns raised by residents, particularly in the Carholme Ward area.

Implementing Article 4 would mean there are extra processes involved in adding more HMOs to the city, looking at the need of the area. This would mean all HMO properties would go through planning.

It would not affect houses already converted into HMOs, and notice would be given to those already going through the process of conversion.

The SU petition already has around 1,500 signatures from students and residents, more than the petition given to the council by the West End Residents Association earlier in the year, which had 1,100.

In a statement the University of Lincoln SU said: “Article 4, which will affect the whole city rather than just Carholme Ward, will not just limit the number of students living in certain areas it will also prevent those on low incomes, migrants, young professionals and many others from being able to afford housing within the city.

“Lincoln is growing; its economy has been boosted by the growing reputations of both the University of Lincoln and Bishop Grosseteste University. These institutions produce a large number of skilled graduates that could greatly benefit the city and economy; however, due to lower-than-average salaries in the county, graduate retention is currently poor and many look for work in other cities.

“However if an Article 4 direction is put in place there will be limited accommodation available for those who do want to stay.

“The rate of pay within Lincoln is below that of the national average and coupling this with soaring rent prices as demand surpasses supply there is a chance of economic downturn.”

The debate was initially sparked by a number of residents voicing concerns over anti-social behaviour and unkept properties.

The SU also argues that limiting the number of HMOs in an area will not address the issues raised directly.

“The so-called ‘balanced community’ and proposed 20% saturation of HMOs does not address the root of any potential issues; it is the individuals whose behaviours and attitudes, both positive and negative, have an effect on the community, not the percentage of shared housing.”

Cllr Chris Burke, Chair of the council’s Policy Scrutiny Committee, said: “HMOs provide an important source of private rented accommodation, particularly for people on low incomes, students, young professionals and migrant workers.

“However, such properties can present issues around the maintenance and also the loss of community due to the transient nature of some residents. There can also be issues with noise and parking, due to the number of people living in one property.

“Clearly the volume and location of HMOs, and the issues associated with these, is something many residents feel passionate about.

“The council has agreed to consider the option of introducing an Article 4 direction, but we also need to consider what effects this might have and what the alternatives are.

“We would need to support an application for an Article 4 direction with robust evidence justifying its purpose and extent, to ensure we could overcome any challenges to it.

“There is a clear need to manage the overall volume and concentration of HMOs in the city and we are hoping for the widest possible participation from across the city as we take positive steps to address this situation.”