What are housing co-ops?

Co-operatives, be it housing or business, are not-for-profit and democratic organisations run for and by their members. They have a rich history and have developed out of a desire to do things differently and in a way that genuinely serve communities. 

They can be:

  • large properties and developments where people live collectively 
  • individual homes in close proximity

Across the UK there are 685 housing co-operatives, with a membership levels close to 70,000

Co-operatives UK, 2018

Where residents rule the roost

The co-operative movement's values are deep-rooted. They are: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. When these values are related to housing it means:

  • Residents are in control
  • Residents self-manage the homes in a democratic way
  • Residents have security
  • Residents pay fairer costs

Unlike some other types of community led housing the membership of a co-op is limited strictly to its residents. The community in question is made up of the people living together. They've created their own environment where they have influence.

The co-operative approach works for both buying and rent

The co-operative approach can be used in various ways:

  • where residents own property/properties as a collective by paying into one mortgage
  • where residents are both the tenants and landlords

Student housing co-ops

Ah, students. Considered cash cows for many private landlords, students have been expected to put up with poor quality housing at high prices for years. And not forgetting all the fees they're expected to pay on top of that too. Students are money spinners, but things are changing.

Student housing co-ops are being created in university towns and cities across the country.

Student Co-op Homes launched in March 2018 to offer alternative, cheaper student housing in towns and cities across the UK. Inspired by the hugely successful model that has developed in America over the past 50 years, Student Co‑op Homes aims to:

  • Increase the national capacity of student housing co‑ops from 150 to 10,000 beds by 2023 – equating to one third of the current market share of iQ2, the largest private student housing provider in the UK.
  • Own the property portfolio of all student housing co-ops and lease them to back to local student groups. This will aid stability and sustainability and overcome the need for short-term tenancies for students.