Cleaning up student housing

A radical new housing solution for students in Edinburgh is welcoming over 100 freshers this week.

Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative is making improvements to its building, including the installation of a laundry room, after receiving a loan from us. The co-op was set up in 2013 by Students for Co-operation, a federation of student co-ops which works to support social change across the UK.

Mike Shaw, one of the founders of Students for Co-operation, explains why housing co-operatives are particularly important for students: “Housing co-ops are about taking control and ownership of our own homes into our own hands, and away from unscrupulous landlords and money-grabbing corporations. Housing co-ops are particularly important for students, because they’re often subject to substandard housing at highly inflated prices; housing co-ops are a good way to fight back.”

The co-op had planned to acquire a house with 10 beds, but when the opportunity arose to rent a much larger building, it was too good to pass up. With assistance from Edinburgh Council and Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association, a five year lease was arranged for the vast property in Midlothian.

This week, 106 students will move in to the co-op’s refurbished flats in Wrights Houses. They will each pay a £100 joining fee, which secures their membership to the co-op, and puts them the unique and exciting position of being their own landlords.

James Kerr, one of the members of Edinburgh Student Housing co-op, said: “I’m moving in at the end of the week but I already know most of the people I’ll be living with. There’s a real sense of community. We have lots of learning to do because it’s such a new project – but everyone is really excited and enthusiastic.”

Living in the housing co-op provides considerable financial value. £305 per month covers board, bills (including high speed internet from The Phone Co-op), use of white goods, cleaning products, and access to the new free laundry room.
James explains why the new laundry room is so important: “Usually, student accommodation is attached to a laundry facility which the tenants will have to pay to use. This can be very expensive – usually about £4 a go, for each the washer and dryer – especially when you cost in laundry detergent.”

Each member is expected to volunteer three hours of their time per week to help with running the co-op; including finances, administration and maintenance. Some members volunteer more, and this is rewarded with a reduction in their rent.

Ian Taylor, said: “We think this particular housing co-op will work really well because it’s such a large project; an obvious solution to a housing shortage in a major university city. The support they’ve received from the local housing association and the wider co-operative movement has been invaluable.”

For more information visit