Brighton property to become city’s first student housing co-operative scheme

A newly-purchased property is set to host Brighton’s first student housing co-operative scheme.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 12:27 pm
The signing of the lease at Preston Park

Students living at the property will own and collectively manage the building.

The rent they pay will only be used to cover the upkeep of the house – such as lease, bills, repairs – rather than going into the pockets of landlords.

The project is being run by the Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust, in partnership with SEASALT (South-East Students Autonomously Living Together) housing co-operative.

It is the first of its kind in the South East and only the fifth in the UK so far.

Members will be able to stay for the duration of their studies plus a year after graduation, which will give them an opportunity to build relationships with their neighbours and escape short-term tenancies that students and the community often find disruptive.

SEASALT said that problems with spiralling rent prices faced across the country were even worse for students, as landlords and letting agents look to ‘exploit our inexperience and precarious, insecure situations’ to make ‘maximum profit for minimum effort’.

High rents for students can cause significant inequalities in education – with students whose families are able to support them being able to devote more time to their studies, compared with those who have to work long hours to cover their rent.

Private landlords usually have no incentive to improve student living conditions or tackle big issues such as the carbon emissions and accessibility of their housing stock, SEASALT said.  

“By empowering our students to take control of their accommodation, we have taken the first steps towards building a fairer and more equal future across Brighton and Hove, putting the needs of our local community first,” a spokesman said.

The property is owned by Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust and leased through a seven-year lease to SEASALT, with responsibility for maintenance shared between the two organisations.

SEASALT will have full autonomy in the day-to-day running, membership of the co-operative and the life of the community.

Funding to buy the property was secured through a mortgage from Ecology Building Society, and a successful community share offer which raised £336,200 from over 140 investors.

Jon Lee, who leads on Ecology Building Society’s support for community and co-operative housing, said: “As a member-owned mutual ourselves, it’s fantastic to be part of this ground-breaking project which we hope will pave the way for many more co-operative student housing schemes throughout the UK.”

It is hoped that a second property can be purchased in two or three years’ time, creating more homes that will be out of private ownership and affordable, secure and sustainable in the long term.

Janet Crome, director of the Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust, said: “We have really enjoyed working with these inspiring students, who have given so much passion and time to the project, even though some of them may not live in the house themselves.

“We look forward to a long and fruitful and enjoyable partnership with them and watching them thrive.”