Labour action to tackle sub-standard student digs

Hull's student population could benefit from new plans to improve the management and physical standard of all student accommodation.

Under Government plans that have been put out for consultation, the management and standards of student housing could be brought in line with those already set down for privately rented housing, particularly through Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing.

The consultation involves three codes of management practice, covering student accommodation managed by universities, other higher education establishments and commercial providers.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson MP said: "Hull has a significant number of students. It has been remarkable that many student residences are not covered by the same regulations as other types of accommodation.

"These new plans would help ensure that student accommodation is both of a decent standard and properly managed. This would be beneficial not only for the students who live here temporarily, but also for local residents who often suffer from living in an area with bad landlords who neglect their properties.

"I'm pleased that the Government is taking this problem seriously and consulting on plans that will improve life for many people living and studying in Hull."

Housing Minister Baroness Andrews said: "It is only right that, whether or not the halls of residence are operated by a higher education establishment or a commercial provider, similar detailed management standards should apply.

"This clearly reflects a major concern of students and their parents about the need for adequate standards in university managed accommodation. It is why we amended the Housing Bill last year so we could approve codes of practice for such accommodation. By approving these codes we will be endorsing some very detailed standards that will apply to all halls of residence."

The Housing Act 2004 allows the government to approve codes of management practice for both properties subject to HMO licensing and those specifically exempted from licensing. It also allows the government to exempt from HMO licensing properties managed by universities and other higher education establishments. Importantly it is not proposed to exempt commercial providers, but it is envisaged their compliance with a code should result in reduced licensing fees.

After the consultation closes on 6 October, secondary legislation will be laid before parliament to approve the codes and provide for exemptions from HMO Licensing for accommodation managed by higher education establishments.