Referendum on Student Housing Accreditation Scheme

Referendum: ‘Do you accept the policy for the Students’ Union to produce their own ‘Student Housing Accreditation Scheme’ to protect their student members living in rented accommodation?’ 

Following a recent All Student Members meeting, which unfortunately was not quorate, the meeting agreed that the Students’ Union should set up a Housing Accreditation Scheme, and voted unanimously that this should be sent to a referendum to enshrine it in policy. 

As a result, between the 1st-5th June 2020, the Students’ Union is holding a referendum to ask you, our members, to vote as to whether you accept the policy for the Students’ Union to produce their own ‘Student Housing Accreditation Scheme’ to protect their student members living in rented accommodation, in line with the policy that was presented at the All Student Members Meeting. 

In line with the Students’ Union bye-laws, we will be holding a referendum debate on this matter, on the 28th May 2020, 12:30-1:30, via Microsoft Teams. If you would like to join the debate, please email [email protected].

We have not yet had anyone come forward to lead the ‘No’ side of this referendum. If you are interested, please email [email protected] by Friday 29th May 2020. 

The Policy

This Union notes:

- 50.1% of students live in Privately Rented Accommodation, according to the Student
Housing Survey 2019.

- 74% of students didn’t know whether their property was accredited or not,
according to the Student Housing Survey 2019.

- The current Accreditation scheme is managed by the University of Lincoln, with the
official partners being Bishop Grosseteste University, City of Lincoln Council,
Lincolnshire County Council (trading standards), Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, &
Lincolnshire Police.

- There is no information available for Students to understand what the accreditation
scheme is, with only one page regarding accreditation on the accommodation
website, which is solely aimed at Landlords here.

- StudentPad is used to promote accredited landlords and their houses, as well as the
Student Housing Fayre hosted each November. 345 students attended the Housing
Fayre in 2019.

- 23.8% of students living in privately rented were either neither “dissatisfied or
satisfied”, “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied”, according to the Student Housing
Survey 2019

- 67.4% had experienced maintenance issues with 23% of students experience issues
with landlords not responding, according to the Student Housing Survey 2019

- The University of Lincoln Accommodation Team no longer visit multiple houses to do
spot checks on the quality and safety of the accommodation.

- The current scheme states maintenance issues (not urgent i.e. not toilet blockage,
flooding, or electrical faults etc) should be remedied within 28 working days

- The current scheme states landlords should “respond reasonably and promptly to
any complaints raised by tenants or their representatives”.

- The current scheme includes no form of Student Feedback Mechanism

- Research from Pevalin, Reeves, Baker & Bentley (2017) found living in poor quality
housing for extended periods of time has negative consequences for mental health

- In the year of 2019-20, the Students’ Union Advice Centre dealt with 98 cases
relating to housing from landlord disputes to poor quality maintenance.

This Union believes:

- A large proportion of our membership live in privately rented HMO (houses of
multiples occupancy) across the city of Lincoln.

- The lack of publicity and poor turn out for the housing fayre has caused little
knowledge of the accreditation system within the student population.

-This lack of knowledge about the accreditation system means it carries no value
anymore, as students do not see a benefit in looking for specifically accredited

- Housing is becoming a more prominent issue, particularly regarding the
maintenance, landlord communication and upkeep of housing.

- The current accreditation scheme no longer ensures housing is well-kept or
maintained, and has no form of student feedback mechanism

- The current scheme is outdated, and should provide more protection for student
renters against “rogue” landlords

- The correlation between negative wellbeing and poor-quality housing, would mean
if there was an improvement in housing standards across the city this could see an
improvement in student wellbeing for our Members.

This Union resolves:

- We, The University of Lincoln Students’ Union, action our Executive to produce a
new Students’ Union Specific Accreditation Scheme, that puts student welfare and
safety as a top priority.

- The Accreditation Scheme should put student feedback and consistent monitoring at
the forefront of its membership criteria, along with traditional safety and HMO
licensing procedures.