Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Proposed Student Commune Policy of the City of Johannesburg

There is a tremendous shortage of quality affordable accommodation for students in our area– as a letting agency we have been inundated this year with students requesting accommodation in the Melville, Westdene, Auckland Park, Brixton areas. The council has realised this and is now busy with pro-active planning to solve the crisis.

As a letting agent we are trying to eradicate slumlording – guys housing 30+ people in properties suited to 5 – 10 people. It is important to understand that there are responsible and quality investors that would like to play an active role and that have quality properties available to let to students.

The council along with the relevant stakeholders (letting agents, UJ, WITS, residents) is working on a draft proposal for the standards of student accommodation and the way forward for a policy for JHB. Standards would look at amount of people per house/sqm, health regulations, student conduct etc.

The student housing policy will also address issues regarding future development.

There is talk of granting an amnesty period to landlords that do not comply fully with the proposed standards and to bring these landlords onboard within a systemised environment. This should help with eradicating slumlords and creating the required standards. Standards would probably also include similar elements to that found within the Tourism Grading council, Guest House Associations etc.

It looks like the biggest concern from permanent residents in the aforementioned areas is that of noise and devaluating property prices – if a agent such as ourselves is used to manage the property such incidences are managed – we have a zero tolerance policy for unruly behaviour and conduct and we have in the past issued immediate eviction notices to tenants that do not want to be part of a harmonious suburb.

All in all it is work in progress and very exciting times – there are offcourse always people out there that hate the word student and one cannot reason with these individuals. They will at all costs shoot down any proactive proposals relating to student accommodation and the management there off. They do not like proactive change and don’t contribute productively to any solutions.

We are very excited and look forward to seeing final drafts presented by council. It is important to understand that we stay in a metropolis that is fully developed and one cannot compare the situation in JHB to that of Potch or Stellenbosch. We need to look at densification and unique strategies to assist in easing the tremendous backlog of required student housing.

University of York Case Study

The Nature and Impact of Student Housing Markets within the Private Rented Sector funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, this research aimed to understand the nature and impact on local rental markets of students attending higher education institutions (HEIs).

Recent years have seen a large increase in the number of students in full-time higher education. Taken as a whole, there has at the same time been no commensurate expansion in the amount of student accommodation provided by the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) themselves. In this context, the research sought to examine the impacts of student demand for accommodation on local housing markets.The research involved a UK-wide postal survey of all HEI accommodation officers; interviews with housing benefit officers, rent officers and environmental health officers in nine case study locations; interviews with HEI policy officers and student welfare officers of 20 HEIs in the nine case study areas; and interviews with landlords and letting agents in six of the localities.The postal survey of accommodation officers found that on average twice as many students (half of the total) were living in private rented housing as they were in accommodation provided by their HEI. Three fifths of the accommodation officers also said that there had been an increased reliance on the private rented sector as their number of students had grown. However, the case study interviews found that HEIs were often unaware, even unconcerned, about the possible impacts on local housing markets of the increased demand from students for private rented housing.

The case study work found that the increased demand from students had several impacts on local markets. It became clear that 'student landlords' preferred letting to students because of the higher returns which can be obtained from a shared student household. In addition, they tended to regard students as reliable tenants, and they also commonly believed that they had a point of contact, in the HEI, should there be problems with the tenancy. As a result, landlords had been responding to the increased demand from students by buying up properties to let in the 'student areas'. These areas had often come to be intensely dominated by students, and other types of tenant - particularly low income households, and those on housing benefit - had been edged out.

Due to the intensive occupation of students in some areas, and what was referred to as a 'difference in lifestyles', local residents had formed associations to voice their concerns to the local authority and the HEI. An additional impact of the increased student demand, was that the influx of landlords had considerably affected house prices. The demand for properties in the student areas from these landlords had pushed up house prices to the extent that many owner occupiers, and first time buyers in particular, had been priced out of the market.

The research was carried out in the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York by David Rhodes, Julie Rugg and Anwen Jones.
Outputs Report:
Rugg, J., Rhodes, D. and Jones, A. 2000) The Nature and Impact of Student Demand on Housing Markets, York: York Publishing Services.

Student Accommodation: Our definition

A secure and professionally managed residential house,
within walking distance from the institution and supplementary services/infrastructure,
offering one decent sized bedroom per tenant,
with communal areas which include;
•Lounge/dining room
serviced and maintained daily/weekly,
and conducive to studying and personal wellbeing.

What is student accommodation - Wikipedia definition

Student accommodation is a term used in debates over the impact of student housing in the United Kingdom, especially with regard to the recent expansion of numbers in higher education. As increasing numbers of young people attend universities, institutionally-owned halls of residence have become increasingly incapable of coping with the demand for housing. At the same time, house-sharing has become considered a normal and sometimes desirable part of the student experience. In most university towns today, students only stay in halls for their first year, then move out into private student accommodation.

In many towns, this trend has led to the emergence of student areas. These tend to be low-rent areas which are situated near to city centres, and often have plenty of leisure facilities (e.g. pubs, cinemas, bowling alleys) within walking distance. On the other hand, they tend to have lower rents. Student areas are often perceived negatively by local or neighbouring populations, and the perceived negative social or economic impact of students on their chosen neighbourhoods has led to tension in so-called town-gown relations.

The influx of students to an area was thought to devalue the local property market, but recently the competition for good housing has often led to rising prices, as student landlords and letting agents compete for rental revenues. The surplus of student demand is seen to provide guaranteed income for landlords who chose to take advantage of the market, and many buy-to-let landlords chose to designate their properties as "student houses" in promotional materials. This label usually implies a lower quality of decor than would be expected for a normal let, balanced against the landlord's willingness to accept multiple tenants and parental guarantors.
Some cities have begun to offer serviced student accommodation in a bid to raise the quality of student housing and steal market share. These facilities are often quite luxurious with flat screen TV's and Playstations thrown into the offering.

The student market has become big business in the UK and organisations have sprung up to cater to this market ranging from student advice and student accommodation websites through to dedicated student letting agents. The competition in this sector is fierce because student loans and grants means this sector have a high level of disposable income at the start of the year or semester.