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CLAIM: 'Banning new HMOs makes student housing market worse'

hmos jane ann liston

Students are finding it even harder to find accommodation following a four-year freeze on new HMOs in a leading university city, according to one councillor.

The Scottish seaside town of St Andrews stopped approving licences for new HMOs in 2019 in a bid to relieve pressure on the overcrowded housing market and to free up flats for those not studying at the university.

Liberal Democrat councillor Jane Ann Liston (main image) says she predicted the move would only spread the student population more thinly but that the situation is even worse than she feared, with many properties being divided into two-bedroom flats to avoid HMO rules.

“We have all heard of pairs of students under-occupying properties where the other bedrooms are locked, resulting in huge rent increases for each tenant and driving the poorest students out of St Andrews and into accommodation 13 miles away in Dundee,” she told The Courier.

The policy’s aim to free up potential student-occupied flats for low and middle-income households hasn’t happened, said Liston, while many landlords are choosing to go down the short-term lets road instead.

Oblivious to noise

“With most students wanting to be in the town centre, which includes many properties only suitable for fit young people oblivious to noise and unencumbered by children or cars, there is an opportunity to make best use of our limited housing stock by encouraging students to live there, leaving the further-out residential areas for families,” she added. “The current policy fails to do this.”

Students are campaigning to end the freeze after scores struggled to find accommodation at the start of last term. Councillors are set to discuss the policy in April following a consultation which has just ended.

Picture credit: Jane Ashton/Twitter

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