The vice-chairman of a prominent residents’ association is warning that a saturated student lets market is restricting families’ access to accommodation in Canterbury.
David Kemlsey of the Oaten Hill and South Canterbury Association says too many properties have been turned into students lets as houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs).
But he fears landlords are content to let them sit unoccupied rather than lose them – thereby preventing families from being able to occupy them.
“The market is absolutely saturated with student lets,” Mr Kemsley told the Canterbury Journal today (Tuesday).
“I believe there are 900 unoccupied HMOs in the city – in other words, far too many. Unfortunately, landlords don’t want to relinquish them which means young families cannot access them.”
There are some 2,000 names on Canterbury City Council’s housing waiting list with many people in temporary or inadequate accommodation.
By contrast, a search of student lets available in the CT postcode shows more than 1,600 properties available for rent. With its three universities, the vast majority will be in the city of Canterbury.
Mr Kemsley wants to see the city council introduce a system whereby it can limit the number of properties allowed to become HMOs.
He went on: “The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a definitive list of HMOs and unless you do that you can’t restrict their number.
“Only then would we be able to see more houses restored to residential use.”
Elsewhere there are concerns that too many purpose-built student accommodation buildings are appearing in the city.
Paloman Court on the ring road at Rhodaus Town was completed last year and another application for the neighbouring former St Mary Bredin School site has been submitted to council planners.
It attracted more than 30 letters of objection from people across the city, including one from Prof Rick Norman who monitors housing issues in Canterbury.
He said: “The provision of student accommodation in that part of Canterbury has now reached saturation point.
“A better use of the location would be for a combination of family housing and open space.”
The St Mary Bredin application is due to be determined later this year.