100 flats at £250 a month: Co-op housing project moves closer to goal

The Edinburgh Student Housing Co-Operative Project is making significant progress towards its goal of establishing a co-operative capable of housing over 100 students, according to a paper produced by the group.

The premise of establishing a housing co-operative in Edinburgh was frequently discussed at last year’s Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) elections, and was supported by 92 per cent of students who took part in a referendum in 2013.

A housing co-operative is a group of members that own one or more residential buildings. The members of a co-operative are usually exclusively tenants and prospective tenants. Membership entitles one to have a say in how the co-op is run.

The building location that the project is hoping to purchase has not yet been disclosed, because of interest from other parties.

Research by the Advice Place in 2013, found that the average student rent cost was £360 per month, but the project’s paper suggests that students involved with the co-operative would pay significantly cheaper rents, at around £250 per month.

Those supporting the project have argued that hefty rent rates in Edinburgh are putting off prospective students from less wealthy backgrounds.

Student housing co-operatives are fairly common in the United States of America.

One of the most famous co-operatives, the Berkley student co-operative was founded in 1933, by 14 students. It now has around 1,300 students members.

Speaking to the Student, Mike Shaw, one of the students behind the project, said that as well as saving costs, the establishment of a co-operative would have many advantages for students.

Shaw said: “As a co-op the property would be managed and run democratically by the students living there. If tenants agreed to rename the building after Chuck Norris, host a ‘90s RnB gig every Sunday lunchtime and to paint a mural in the stairwell of Susan Boyle, then there’s no-one stopping them!

“It should be much better than renting from a private landlord or through a letting agency. For example tenants will be able to paint their rooms, have much more flexible leases, and keep a cat.”

“Tenants would be expected to occasionally chip in to help run the coop [sic], for example cleaning communal areas, helping with basic maintenance or refurbishments, ordering supplies, organising events. Things like emergency plumbing repairs etc. would be contracted out.”

Kirsty Haigh, EUSA Vice President Services (VPS) and a member of the project said: “I am delighted that this project is getting off the ground and that we are taking serious steps to address the housing problems in Edinburgh.

We’ve tried remediation but now it’s time to take matters into our own hands and take proactive steps to provide a solution.”

Callum Mason

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