Would you want to live door to students?

IN a city with as many students as Glasgow, there is inevitably a shortage of accommodation near the universities and colleges.

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In recent years, planning applications for blocks of student flats have been flooding into the city council from developers struggling to sell mainstream houses in the recession-hit market.

Some young people opt for halls of residence but, unsurprisingly, many more prefer the freedom of living with friends in private flats.

That has resulted in large numbers of properties in parts of the city being converted into lucrative student pads.

Properties which house at least three unrelated tenants are houses in multiple occupation or HMOs, and need to be licensed by the council.

But while everyone accepts students have to live somewhere -very few people are keen to have them living next door.

In the West End, some believe there are already too many HMOs in the area and want a ban on any more.

In a bid to find out the extent of the problem, the city council carried out an extensive consultation.

Councillors heard from community groups, who raised problems of over-provision and wanted a halt on more licences being granted.

fire and police chiefs have warned public safety would be put at risk if unlicensed HMOs sprang up.

Members of the licensing committee decided not to set an upper limit on the number of HMOs, but to look at the issue again in a couple of years time.

But SNP councillors are now demanding a limit be put on the number of HMO licenses granted.

Ken Andrew represents Hillhead, where there is a large student population, and claims a third of the responses to the consultation came from HMO landlords.

He has accused the council of listening to the people who make money out of student accommodation and not local people who live with the consequences.

His colleague John McLaughlin insists a policy of over provision is urgently required and believes legislation exists to allow that to happen. He now plans to raise the matter with Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess.

The issue of HMOs is a tricky one for the council, which is keen to attract overseas and out of town students to the city's universities and colleges.

To make that attractive, it needs good quality accommodation for the young people who will make Glasgow their home during term time.

But councillors also need to take into account the views of residents - and voters - who live in areas popular with students.

vivienne.nicoll@eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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