Norwich City Council Cabinet is set to discuss a motion which would restrict available housing for students in the city.

Article 4, which is due for hearing on September 14th, proposes that there should be restrictions placed on the number of houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) in certain areas of the city, including the Golden Triangle, including a threshold of 30%. A residency is deemed an HMO if it houses three or more biologically unrelated occupants, who share communal facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Landlords benefit from renting properties out to multiple occupants, rather than one familial group. Renting a house to a family in Norwich would equate to around £600 every calendar month, whereas in any of Norwich’s 3,000 HMOs, individual occupants pay around £250 each, meaning a three-bed student house would be worth around £750 per month. Residents, however, are not as satisfied with HMO arrangements and complaints of anti-social behaviour and ‘unbalanced neighbourhoods’ have become common in Norwich student suburbs. These complaints, and apparent difficulties over renting in the city, are believed to have led Norwich City Council to the discussion of Article 4.

UEA SU have launched a petition in protest over the proposal. Started six days ago with the aim of gathering 500 signatures, the Change.org petition now has over 400 supporters. It states that rising rentals and other social problems in Norwich are not the fault of students and other HMO tenants, rather, these inhabitants contribute to the community.

The petition reads: students “are part of a diverse and vibrant community in Norwich and contribute to its economy. Not only does UEA make up 5% (3, 896) of Norwich’s employment, it’s students spend £201 million in the city on living and housing costs, bringing the total output impact of UEA in Norwich and the surrounding area to £364.4 million… We believe that students should have the right to choose where they live, that students are a contributing factor, both socially and economically, to the Norwich community and that Article 4 will have a detrimentally unfair impact on both students and young working people in the city”.

The petition will be delivered to the Cabinet  before the hearing on September 14th.

When asked about the negative effect Article 4 would have on students, SU Campaigns and Democracy Officer Amy Rust responded, saying: “for students at UEA, Article 4 in Norwich would be a disaster- pushing up rents, restricting where we can live and unfairly stigmatising students as a neighbourhood ‘problem’”.

She added: “the good news is that the SU is onto the issue at an early stage- we’re working with local councillors and the university to stop Article 4 implementation. If the City Cabinet decides to go to consultation we will be mobilising our students, working with the community and working to demonstrate that we are good neighbours in Norwich”.

The petition, and more information about Article 4, can be found here. https://www.change.org/p/norwich-city-council-norwich-city-council-should-reject-article-4