Landlords could be charged for refuse collection in move to stop ‘studentification’

STUDENT landlords could be made to pay business rates and forced to pay commercial rates for refuse collection if new policy is approved.

Warwick District Council is investigating the measures to halt the spread of shared housing in parts of Leamington where residents are concerned that a student ‘ghetto’ is being created.

With no council tax paid by students or owners of student houses, Liberal Democrats claim council taxpayers are “subsidising” landlords’ profits.

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Under new powers available to local government, they have asked the authority’s executive to investigate charging landlords for refuse collection and levying business rates.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Alan Boad (Leamington Crown) told the council’s executive committee on Wednesday that student housing in Leamington had become a “significant” commercial business that made no financial contribution to the services it used.

He said: “Where you have what are clearly businesses providing student accomodation they should be treated like businesses.”

Landlords already need planning permission to convert homes into shared houses, but Liberal Democrats have suggested charging them for commercial refuse collection and business rates in a similar way to hotels or hostels.

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Cllr Bill Gifford (Lib Dem, Leamington Milverton) said shared houses also affected the availability of houses for ordinary people.

He said: “A house that could otherwise be rented out to a family is more profitable if you let it out to students.”

The council’s leader Cllr Michael Doody (Con, Radford Semele) agreed to investigate whether student housing does ultimately leave the authority out of pocket, but pointed out the Government does take students into account in the grant it gives the council every year.

Cllr Doody said it was “not true” to talk about a subsidy, but accepted it was “pretty close” on whether the council was overpaid or underpaid and said finance officers should investigate this.

He said: “The questions are there. They need answering.”

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Cllr Doody also cast doubt on whether the Government would allow the council to charge landlords council tax, while Cllr John Hammon (Con, Cubbington) said: “We musn’t knock the students because they are part of our economy.”