Hope for Student Accommodation

 

There is hope for Student Accommodation in Bloemfontein

 

A

fter years of neglect and individual efforts to solve the accommodation problems of students, various role-players decided enough is enough and formed a united group to challenge the complex hurdles to avoid the chaos experienced in 2020, for the years to come. The Mangaung Communal Owner's Association (MCOA) is growing from strength to strength, representing owners and agents of owners, who rent out to 2 or more unrelated persons, on a single premise. As it stands it has 214 participants (owners and agents), offering more than 6000 beds to students in Bloemfontein.

 

A significant number of students attending the tertiary institutions in Bloemfontein are from areas outside of the City. This necessitates the need for accommodation in areas that are conveniently located close to the Universities and other tertiary institutions. As for students, the same housing need is experienced by the young working class in the City as well. The use of residential houses that are used to house students and entry-level working-class citizens, has resulted in conflict between local communities and the commune operators.

 

Residents have frequently cited the following concerns in recent years:

• High incidence of anti-social behavior including noise, particularly late at night.

• Regular partying with associated excessive noise levels and littering.

• Traffic congestion and overcrowded houses.

• Alteration of the residential character of certain properties and areas.

 

Other Cities already acknowledged 10 years ago that communal accommodation is not exclusively used by students, but also by entry-level workers. In many cases, the above-mentioned problems are created by non-students in predominantly student occupied areas.

 

Because off-campus student accommodation tends to be viewed, by the public, the UFS and the Metro in an unfavorable manner, it is the aim of MCOA, to engage with all relevant role-players, in open-minded interactions, to seek solutions to implement adequate and appropriate control measures, thereby ensuring a harmonious organized environment, in our city. It has been done in other cities, so we can too. The MCOA is working on turning negative views on student accommodation into a positive experience, to be recognized as a positive asset of our City. This is also encouraged by the Mangaung Metro Municipality, tertiary institutions, and the local community.

 

The need for communal accommodation is an international trend, experienced especially in areas where tertiary institutions of learning are established. Bloemfontein is known for its variety of tertiary institutions, making it difficult to accept the currently proposed demarcated areas to be used for this purpose. It is, therefore, wrong to believe that prohibiting the establishment of communes will make it disappear, and wrong for the current policies to address the student side alone, without addressing the non-student population needs and regulations for communal accommodation. All residents in an area should behave and be controlled, irrespective if they are students or not.

 

The hurdles to be addressed include, but are not limited, to the following:

- Illegal uses / Town-planning considerations - expanding areas to be earmarked for communes.

- Crime, littering, and anti-social behavior.

- Setting guidelines and standards for premises to be used for communes.

- Engaging with students and their representatives to develop practical management strategies.

- Negotiating fair application processes for approval of special consent use, zoning, and applications for accreditation with tertiary institutions.

- Public participation in areas affected by communal accommodation.

- Ensuring the viability of communes, to ensure neat gardens, proper maintenance and a positive contribution to the community they operate in.

 

To be successful we need to unite as a community, working towards the same goal, to create a win-win situation for all. We should be able to do this without resorting to legal action, without threats being made of penalties and closing of communes. This will leave students destitute on the streets without accommodation and open to be exploited because of their desperation.

 

National Real Estate, represented by Gert van der Merwe, is one of the main agencies forming part of an appointed committee to drive these efforts. We are proud to be part of this unique opportunity, to once and for all, make a positive contribution, in finding workable solutions. Gert van der Merwe has also been an owner of student accommodation for the past 17 years!

 

As it stands, there are major risks involved in purchasing property for student accommodation, and any prospective investor should make sure the agent he or she is dealing with, is up to date and part of this process.

 

For assistance and guidance on this matter, you can contact Gert van der Merwe on 0823747215 or at the office on 051-4059990.

 

For relevant property links, see below:

 

http://www.nationalbloemfontein.co.za/Property-details.aspx?PropertyID=79719

 

http://www.nationalbloemfontein.co.za/Property-details.aspx?PropertyID=56847

 

http://www.nationalbloemfontein.co.za/Property-details.aspx?PropertyID=78165

http://www.nationalbloemfontein.co.za/Property-details.aspx?PropertyID=53039

 

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