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HMO’s Versus Purpose Built Student Accommodation

HMO’s are popular in towns or cities, you will find there is always a demand for good quality housing, especially in places with large universities.

Once students are out of halls, (after the first year), many want to experience living in properties for their second and third year, usually with other like-minded people, HMO’s fit the bill.

HMO’s offer security, friendships and an easier shared way of living. They come with lockable rooms, shared kitchens and bathrooms and are often seen as a stepping stone between renting privately, yet giving the feeling of still being in halls. It is not only students that occupy this type of property. There are plenty of professional renters in the market as people are finding it difficult for a variety of reasons to buy their own homes.

However, a report in January 2015, stated that an exodus of students from their traditional Leeds heartland could help push down property prices-and there were fears that it could send the numbers of empty properties spiralling upwards (Source, Yorkshire Evening Post).

Students had moved from areas like Hyde Park, Headingly and Kirkstall into purpose built flats in the city, according to the same source.

Families had been priced out of these areas in the past by some landlords who has pushed up prices over the years. Some houses have also been neglected, with maintenance a low priority.

Leeds student population at January 2015 stood at 59,000… Purpose built accommodation for students in the form of direct provision by Universities, commissioned facilities by Universities with private providers. This is usually in the form of self-catering halls in cluster units with communal facilities and 24/7 management/support facilities, (Source, A Strategy for Housing Students in Leeds).

The purpose of the above was to set out a framework for the provision of good quality, well-managed affordable housing for students attending Leeds Universities. In part this was to avoid concentrations of students in one part of the city and ensuring effective management of areas of the city with student populations, according to the same source.

There is a reportedly a 5,000 surplus stock of student bed spaces in Leeds because of the exodus of students to the purpose built flats.

Concerns have been raised that the bed spaces are often the HMO’s, large Victorian houses converted for multiple occupancy.  Leeds City Council have concerns that these types of buildings could be difficult to return back to family homes.

HMO’s do provide an affordable type of housing and they do contribute to the overall mix of housing types. The major worries are that a high concentration of this house type can result in harmful impacts, including anti-social behaviour, noise and nuisance. 

It is a bit of a conundrum, on the one hand the long-term strategy for Leeds students was to secure private investment in purpose built accommodation, which has been accomplished. But, on the other hand, the issues of balance and sustainability, namely the housing situation in the three areas mentioned above. 

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