Affordable student housing: Doesn’t everyone deserve this?

While studying at university, Simin found renting from private landlords frustrating and costly. She wanted to live differently - so decided to make a change...

While studying, students often live in shared houses or halls of residence. They pay rent on these properties, and this can be quite expensive. In fact, research suggests that students spend 73% of their student loan on rent (Unipol and the NUS, 2018).

Simin, a student for 5 years, was fed up with the high cost of renting. She was also concerned about the lack of available housing in her area. So, she decided to take action.

Doing things differently

Simin set up a student housing co-operative, where students formally group together to buy and run a house or a hall of residence. This way the students have more control over where and how they live.

A co-operative is a democratic organisation that is completely owned and run by its members.

Simin explains: “All of the members - who are always students - jointly manage the house and act as if they were the landlords.”

The cost of paying your share of the mortgage is often less than paying rent. Co-operatives are not set up to make a profit, instead there is a feeling of community. The students own and live in the house together.

Owning your own home

Simin feels a real sense of achievement that she has been able to buy a house. She says: “For most young people, home ownership is not an option. But being part of the co-operative, forming an organisation that then gets its own mortgage, gives you that opportunity.”

It also feels good that everyone has equal control. It is a democracy. Members all vote on issues to do with their house.

Mental wellbeing

Simin says being part of a shared home is good for her mental health. It is fun getting to know each other. People can use the different skills they have to benefit the whole co-operative. She enjoys this kind of collaboration.

The mental and emotional wellbeing... make it the perfect living situation.

Students can live in the house during their university course, and for up to a year after they graduate. They have guaranteed stability, and it’s more sustainable: students do not need to throw stuff out every summer because they are not moving each year.

Fairness for all

Simin has not stopped with her activism. She believes everyone deserves the chance to live the way she does, so she is taking her message about housing co-ops out into the wider world. She hopes to educate other students and the wider community about how they work.

Really, doesn’t everyone deserve this?

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