What is The Code and what does it cover?
The Student Accommodation Code protects students’ rights to safe, good quality accommodation, wherever they are studying, and makes sure they get the best out of their time living in university or college residences. It outlines everything students can expect from their accommodation as well as their responsibilities as tenants.
The Code covers six main areas, designed to protect students’ rights to:
- A healthy safe environment – covering students’ rights to information on essential fire safety precautions; accommodation security; and details on what furniture and facilities should be provided for them.
- Timely repairs and maintenance – this explains what repairs and maintenance the university or college is responsible for and what timescales they should work to when carrying out emergency or planned maintenance work.
- A clean, pleasant living environment – this outlines the services and utilities students can expect in their accommodation, from heating and lighting to rubbish and recycling collection and bicycle and car parking.
- A formal, contractual relationship with the university or college landlord – this details the information students can legally request from their landlords including rent payment schedules, cleaning schedules, and details on how to report a problem.
- Access to health and wellbeing services – this outlines the requirements for universities to provide information on where students can find welfare support, medical help, financial advice and counselling services.
- A living environment free from anti-social behaviour – this covers measures that universities and colleges should take to help ensure that their residences are happy and respectful environments.
How is The Code enforced?
Each university and college is independently audited every three years to ensure that its management arrangements for student accommodation are up to the high standards expected by The Code. This ensures that The Code is entirely accountable and transparent. To ensure that the auditing processes are as rigorous as possible, auditors follow a four-step process for each investigation. This involves:
- Talking to students or student representative bodies
- Inspecting documentary evidence
- Conducting a physical inspection of a sample of the accommodation
- And investigating any formal complaints made by students
Key facts about The Code
The Housing Act 2004 introduced licensing for houses of multiple occupations in England and Wales. Higher education institutions are exempted from licensing providing they sign up to a code of practice that has been approved by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
The Accommodation Code set out a list of standards that institutions must be compliant with to ensure a high level of management standards for student accommodation.
Three codes of practice for the higher education sector were approved by parliament in April 2006:
- The Universities UK/GuildHE Code of Practice for University Managed Student Accommodation
- The ANUK/Unipol Code of Standards for Larger Residential Developments for Student Accommodation Managed and Controlled by Educational Establishments
- The ANUK/Unipol Code of Standards for Larger Developments for Student Accommodation NOT Managed and Controlled by Educational Establishments
A revised Code of Practice was laid before parliament on 7 May 2019. This was approved and came into force on the 1 June 2019.
Universities UK/Guild HE has overall responsibility for administering the Universities UK/GuildHE Code of Practice. This duty is discharged through two volunteer groups: the Governance Board; and Sector Advisory Group, respectively.
To be a member of The Code, the institution must undertake an external audit against the Code every three years, and ensure compliance with any findings, annually report formal complaints relating to the Code and submit an annual building list.
Being a compliant member of the Code qualifies the member for exemption from HMO licencing and fees.
2019/20 UUK Code of Practice Fees are 0.40p a bed space compared to the average HMO licence fee costs which vary considerably from authority to authority. The London average, for example, for a three-storey shared house containing five single person lettings in 17/18 was £1,119.
Failure to comply with The Code could lead to removal from the Code and the requirement to become registered as an HMO with the Local Authority.
The Governance Board
This comprises volunteers from across sector associations (AUDE, ASRA, CUBO, USHA, AMOSSHE, CHEIA and AUE) and also representatives from the ANUK code, NUS, Local Authority, Universities UK and MHCLG and it oversees the operation of the Code and issues guidance as necessary on day-to-day management issues.
It conducts an annual review of the Code taking account of HHEs’ experience, audit findings, complaints raising issues with regard to compliance with the Code and reports from other bodies. The Board receives recommendations from the Sector Advisory Group with regards to the development and promotion of the Code, membership requests and compliance related matters.
The Sector Advisory Group
This comprises volunteers from across sector associations (AUDE, ASRA, CUBO, USHA, AMOSSHE, CHEIA and NUS).
The Sector Advisory Group’s authority lies in its ability to articulate, monitor and improve the CoP’s key operational processes, membership compliance and Code content. This particularly informs the production of an annual report and any proposals for changes to the statutory instrument as required by the Housing Act 2004.
For further information, contact Claire Furnival at firstname.lastname@example.org