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Councillors to consider new tenancy strategy to meet needs of residents

Feb 3, 2022 | Leisure & Lifestyle

Plans to implement a new tenancy strategy will be considered by County Durham councillors next week.

As a housing authority, Durham County Council must keep its tenancy strategy under review in light of changing legislation and other factors. The council may amend it when necessary, but when doing so is required to consult with the registered providers operating in the county.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact upon many people’s lives including possession proceedings having to be prevented from progressing at various stages of the pandemic. This has emphasised the importance of ensuring people have the opportunity to access and retain an affordable, secure home.

The strategy will cover social and affordable rent housing and aims to ensure, wherever possible, that people in County Durham have the opportunity of a lifetime tenancy so that they can remain in their home for as long as it is suitable for them. It will also encourage registered providers to help those who are struggling, to avoid people becoming homeless.

Starter tenancies which motivate new tenants to follow their agreement in exchange for a lifetime tenancy after a probation period will be encouraged. People will also be supported to stay in their homes with any adaptations needed.

Durham County Council’s Cabinet has previously agreed to develop 500 new homes up to March 2026. In addition to building the homes, the authority must put in place appropriate arrangements to fulfil its obligations as a landlord and manage the homes once they are built.

The strategy provides the overarching framework for the council’s own tenancies. The report recommends that the authority adopts an introductory scheme for all of its new tenants.

Introductory tenancies would require a slightly more hands-on housing management approach from the housing team during the probationary period to ensure the tenancy is monitored effectively.

For those tenants who comply fully with their agreement, there would be no noticeable difference. The tenant would still have exclusive occupation of the property, the rent level would be the same and they would be able to live in the home without any hands-on involvement by the council.

Cllr James Rowlandson, Cabinet member for resources, assets and investments, said: “Our aim in establishing this strategy is to cater to the needs of all residents in County Durham, ensuring they feel safe and secure in their tenancy.

“Never has it been more important as we build our recovery plans from the coronavirus pandemic that those residents have a choice of housing tenure that provides the maximum

level of security for those in housing need.

“The strategy also fits in with our Housing Strategy as well as the County Durham Plan, a vision which aims to create more and better jobs, help people to live longer and better lives and create more connected communities across the county.”

Cabinet meets at 9.30am on Wednesday 9 February. The meeting is available to view on the council’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/DurhamCouncil