Exeter Student Housing Cooperative
A project by: Sean Porter
The project seeks to establish a community oriented student housing co-op as a vibrant and viable alternative to costly and often poorly maintained privately rented accommodation in Exeter.
What we are proposing is based on successful pre-existing student housing cooperatives in the UK (e.g. Sheffield University, Birmingham and Edinburgh). Exeter Student Housing Cooperative wants to create a community-owned scheme where students are free to join and leave as they progress through university. We believe that our cooperative will not only provide cheaper costs of living for students, but also increase links between the local community, whilst also promoting a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle.
Moreover, substantial amounts of support will be provided to students to help them maintain the house(s). Here, skills gained by cooperative members will be shared and passed from resident to resident — this will create a cohesive and community focused environment, which is currently missing from privately rented student properties.
We intend to start small, with just one cooperative house, and build from there. The first house will act as the catalyst for future projects; both proving cooperatives are financially viable in Exeter and that there is sufficient student interest in cooperative housing/living. The first house will provide the opportunity to learn on the go and build new governing/managing structures that further strengthen the overall cooperative movement. Indeed, we do not see ourselves as operating in isolation; we are part of a much a broader network of student cooperative projects operating across the country.
Cost of Living Crisis…
As we’re sure many of you who have experience of being a student here are aware, Exeter is an expensive place to live. But did you know it has the third highest cost of living for students behind only London and Guildford? The substantial cost of living has severe negative impacts on equal access to education, something which the cooperative seeks to remedy by offering below market rental prices. Unlike private landlords, we are a not for profit group meaning we can charge significantly lower rates of rent — we’re run by students, for students.
Over the past month we have collected testimonies and data from students who have told us the following:
“I think this is an absolutely fabulous idea! It’s shocking that private landlords and unscrupulous letting agents gouge students so shamelessly”
“This would certainly help those students who are looking for housing last minute (year abroad returners, redoing year, freshers who missed out on halls)”
“As students we need to integrate better with local residents; a housing cooperative that focuses on community engagement is a great idea”
“Exeter is becoming increasingly exclusive. We need alternative housing solutions”
*These responses are taken from a survey we conducted through the Students’ Guild – a breakdown of survey results are available on request.
 Citizens Advice Report — Exeter: Town Vs Gown? The housing challenges faced by a university city.
Where will the money go?
The money will cover the cost of registering a housing cooperative through Catalyst Collectivewhich will cost £375.
Any extra funds we receive will go towards producing promotional material and covering event costs.