University of Sussex Students Union, Falmer House, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QF


Got a question? Hopefully, you can find the answer in our FAQs below

Housing co-operatives

 A co-operative (or a co-op) is any organisation that is owned and controlled by its members – whether by its tenants (a “housing co-op” e.g. SEASALT), its employees (a “workers’ co-op” such as Infinity Foods), its consumers (a “consumer co-op” like The Co-op supermarket) or its producers (e.g. Fattoria Della Piana – a dairy co-operative).

A housing co-operative is a property run and managed by its members. Housing co-operatives have been operating across the globe since the 19th century for the purpose of creating affordable, high quality housing that provides its members with the autonomy to make decisions in the interest of the co-operative. There is no landlord, which means that housing co-operatives require self-governance when managing costs and making decisions regarding the obligations of its members. 

As the property is owned and managed by its members, everyone has a vested interest and stake in how it’s run.

The co-operative model flexibly adapts to both individual and collective autonomy. Alongside this, it provides members with a transformative experience through skill-sharing, policy-making and community engagement.

Each co-operative operates according to the 7 co-operative principles. All housing co-operatives follow these, but also have the autonomy to create their own vision and values. The co-operative organisational model is incredibly successful, marked by it longevity and sustainability.

How does SEASALT work?

Not yet! We are working with the Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust who will buy a property and lease it to us on a long term basis.  We have been working on everything from policies to the application process so that when we have a house, our members are ready to move in!

We are currently raising the finance for this through community shares. As of December 2020, we have raised 101% of our minimum target of £260,000.

The property is purchased in the same way that many people buy a house (20% is required for a deposit, 80% is borrowed as a mortgage).

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust are raising money for the deposit through a community share offer which you can invest in! The mortgage will be with an ethical bank who offer mortgages to housing co-operatives.

Yes, graduates can live in SEASALT for up to one year after graduation. This is essential for the transference of skills to the next co-operative group.

Are there other housing coops?

Yes, student housing co-operatives have been popular in North America since the Great Depression in the 1930’s. The first student housing co-operative in the UK was established in Birmingham in 2014. SEASALT will be the first student housing co-operative in the South-East. 

Yes, Brighton has a rich history of being involved in the co-operative movement. There is a network of housing co-ops in the city called CHIBAH consisting of 14 member housing co-ops (as of March 2020). There are also 2 well established national networks – Confederation of Cooperative Housing and the more radical arm, Radical Routes.

How is this different to private renting?

  • In most (private-rented) houses, the rent goes into 1. repaying the mortgage, 2. paying for maintenance costs in the house and 3. accounting for voids (empty rooms for short periods). Any rental income left over goes into the pockets of landlord.

  • SEASALT can have lower rents (£105 per week) because the rent we pay only goes into the essential costs needed to keep it self-sustaining. It is designed to be not-for-profit rather than as an investment.

  • We do this by leasing from not-for-profit organisations who recognise the need for better quality, more affordable student housing in Brighton.

  • Students pay rent. Part of this goes into paying back the mortgage, and the remainder is put into a “project fund” – which SEASALT members can use when, for example, something in the house needs repairing.

In a housing co-operative the members are effectively the landlord. They make the decisions, draft the lease and decide on the policies of the house i.e how things get fixed, if you can have pets in the house etc. Rent goes towards paying off the mortgage and investment for the house as well as into a pot fund for repairs and other essential costs associated with living in shared accomodation. 

As such, the rent does not line a landlords pocket and this makes a housing co-operative a long term sustainable model of housing.  

See our dedicated page for examples of things you can do in a housing co-operative that you typically can’t do in private rented accomodation.