Students are being sought to join the newly formed Glasgow Student Housing Co-op, recently established to offer quality housing and fair rents.
The GSHC, formed by a dozen students at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art, held its first meeting last November after being inspired by a visit to Edinburgh Student Housing Co-op – which was Scotland’s only student housing co-op.
Since then, they have visited a student housing co-op in Birmingham, attended conferences and held a fundraising event, and now hope students from other Glasgow institutions will join the venture.
So far the students have received support from Glasgow City Council’s co-operative development unit and successfully won funding from the Co-operative Glasgow Business Development Fund, which paid for training by Co-operatives UK in governance and financial management. They also getting business advice from Jobs and Business Glasgow.
The co-op carried out a survey of 155 students at the University of Glasgow and found 71% were interested in living in a co-op, and 27% may be interested. They are now looking for a building, with options ranging from a commercial lease to purchase via a mortgage.
Member Kirstie McLean told Scottish Housing News: “It can be difficult for students to find suitable housing – rents can be high and some students experience problems getting repairs done which is frustrating.
“Students often have little control over their living situations and lack knowledge of housing law and private rented sector making it difficult to get problems resolved.
“A co-op provides democratic control – students have a say in how their housing is run and are empowered to make decisions affecting their lives. It is also an opportunity to learn new skills.”
The student housing co-op is beginning to take root in the UK, with viable co-ops formed in Edinburgh, Sheffield and Birmingham. Progress is being made setting others up Nottingham, Newcastle and Leeds.
Kirstie added: “A community-based co-op allows students to take control of their living situation, democratically make decisions about how their accommodation is run, and develop skills and build sustainable communities.
“This model could benefit all tenants but we would argue that it is particularly relevant to students, who may be moving away from home for the first time or who have just arrived in Glasgow and may not be fully aware of their rights as a tenant.”