Article 4 Direction Avoidance – A Pyrrhic Victory

Following the successful landlord-led campaign against Article 4 Directions, culminating in the Council’s decision to shelve Article 4 in Canterbury, there remains a need to consider the counter campaigners’ claims. The long-term residents’ views.

  • Many university cities can learn and benefit from these experiences.
  • Speaking as one who welcomes this decision – gloating gleefully would lack sensitivity and undo the work to build bridges with communities.
  • The problems giving rise to the threat of intervention to control HMOs remain.
  • Residents must now refocus from ousting students to working with them towards a solution.
  • In Canterbury the local landlord’s forum actively encourages this but some residents and even landlords are suspicious. The mindset appears to be that enemies should not collaborate; so progress is prevented.
  • “There is no such thing as a free lunch?” Altruism has hitherto been scrutinised for ulterior motives. Having won the campaign any offer to aid the losing enemy might now be accepted as sincere.
  • Residents in the busiest student corridors between universities and town centres suffer disproportionately greater than all others.
  • This raises concern that not enough imagination has been employed to solve issues with the locals’ emphasis on culling numbers rather than curing behaviour.
  • Of course there are some rowdy students, just as there are and were rowdy locals. But be careful to distinguish between good natured albeit juvenile behaviour by students celebrating exams in June and occasional 21st birthdays; compared with loutish behaviour by local adults and youths!
  • Not enough has been done to help local residents. Property professionals rightly shoulder responsibility for any neglect. How does one apologise most effectively? A determined course to put matters right irrespective of any changes in legislation would be a start.
  • Imaginative solutions are best found and implemented with all party cooperation.
  • Forming a group of united letting professionals is vital to cooperation.
  • Encourage other landlords and letting agents to adopt a system of weekly email prompts reminding students of bin days and which type of collection it is.
  • Predict when noise is likely to be intolerant and provide preemptive warnings.
  • All letting forms at some point include a date of birth. Send a birthday greeting with a gentle caveat to keep the noise down.
  • This system could make a great difference and only recently realised as a by-product. This information is commercially sensitive but in the interests of the profession it is necessary to make sacrifices and to share it with others.
  • The notion of penalties as a means of enforcement is another idea which is more controversial and will certainly make unpopular anyone suggesting it.
  • Another idea revolves around pre-tenancy training. This is easy to action and likely to produce better student behaviour. Trials of such ideas are likely to be adopted by progressively more agents – judging by the feedback.
  • Restoring communities to where they were prior to students arriving is unrealistic but improving them is morally compelling.
  • Long-term residents want to curtail the spread of student numbers in community preferring extending on-campus accommodation. Where the two camps might differ is that students are just as capable of being nice residents, they have simply not yet been given the tools and guidance to be as nice we know they can be. The opposing parties agree on so much but only on the solution do they differ.

A group of Councillors have challenged the validity of the independent survey forming the Council evidence resulting in a recommendation not to adopt Article 4 Directions in Canterbury. A4D is still a threat.

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About the author

Bob

Formerly a student living in a rented room my vision focused on excellence. Letting phenomenal student houses soon became more than a day job - more a way of life.

Continuing to look after our tenants I subsequently also founded what is widely recognised as a phenomenal student lettings agency.