A student housing co-operative has launched in Sheffield after a similar scheme in Birmingham last year.
The Sheffield Student Housing Co-op is supported by the Phone Co-op, who have bought a five-bedroom house in the Crookes area of Sheffield and are now leasing it back to the student co-op. They in turn rent rooms to their members.
The co-op was set up in response to rising rent prices for students and the general low standard of accommodation offered. There is also a lot of competition – recent figures suggest that in British university towns there are 22 students competing for each room, while the National Union of Students say 75% of people who do find accommodation report problems with the property.
In Sheffield, the students pay a £400 deposit when they move in and £69 a week rent. Half of that goes for the lease, and the other half into a kitty for repairs and upkeep.
Phone Co-op chief executive Vivian Woodell told Radio 4’s You and Yours why the company has entered into this.
“In North America there are tens of thousands of students who live in student housing co-ops so the potential is there for this to be quite big,” he said.
“We’re not being greedy about the lease rental. It covers our cost of capital so it’s satisfactory from our point of view.”
The co-op was set up by students and graduates from Sheffield University. They are receiving support from the North West Housing Services co-operative who are providing advice on how to run the co-op effectively.
The Phone Co-op pioneered this model in Birmingham last year, and there is another housing co-op for students in Edinburgh.
Food co-ops are already a well-established part of student life, with dozens in universities across the UK. Now, with the support of larger groups like the Phone Co-op, housing co-ops can become another option for student living.