Residents’ chairman: Reducing student lets will help Canterbury families find homes

Martyr's Field Road in Canterbury is popular with student landlords

The vice-chairman of a prominent residents’ association is warning that a saturated student lets market is restricting families’ access to accommodation in Canterbury.

David Kemlsey of the Oaten Hill and South Canterbury Association says too many properties have been turned into students lets as houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs).

But he fears landlords are content to let them sit unoccupied rather than lose them – thereby preventing families from being able to occupy them.

“The market is absolutely saturated with student lets,” Mr Kemsley told the Canterbury Journal today (Tuesday).

“I believe there are 900 unoccupied HMOs in the city – in other words, far too many. Unfortunately, landlords don’t want to relinquish them which means young families cannot access them.”

There are some 2,000 names on Canterbury City Council’s housing waiting list with many people in temporary or inadequate accommodation.

By contrast, a search of student lets available in the CT postcode shows more than 1,600 properties available for rent. With its three universities, the vast majority will be in the city of Canterbury.

Mr Kemsley wants to see the city council introduce a system whereby it can limit the number of properties allowed to become HMOs.

He went on: “The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a definitive list of HMOs and unless you do that you can’t restrict their number.

“Only then would we be able to see more houses restored to residential use.”

Elsewhere there are concerns that too many purpose-built student accommodation buildings are appearing in the city.

Paloman Court on the ring road at Rhodaus Town was completed last year and another application for the neighbouring former St Mary Bredin School site has been submitted to council planners.

It attracted more than 30 letters of objection from people across the city, including one from Prof Rick Norman who monitors housing issues in Canterbury.

He said: “The provision of student accommodation in that part of Canterbury has now reached saturation point.

“A better use of the location would be for a combination of family housing and open space.”

The St Mary Bredin application is due to be determined later this year.


  1. Its true there are too many to let/student properties. We were looking to buy in canterbury. As a first time buyer we couldn’t afford 95% of the houses that appeared on the market for Canterbury. Those we could where either that price for a reason and we didnt have the skills nor the money to do it up or lost out to cash buyers not wanting to live in the house thenselves.

    Everytime i drive through Canterbury (every week) theres always so many to let, so many families or individuals could have bought a house, or been given a place to stay by the council. Theres no need for so many just greed from those that own them, with the prospect of a big cash injection when they do fill them. Which is another thing, in my experience of student renting, the owners are not always keen to do necessary repairs to make the place better, putting the bare minimum effort in when there is something that has harmed a person (they concreted the tile flooring when a broken tile cut my foot open).


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