Council to consider setting up a local lettings agency to help meet housing need

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A service intended to find accommodation for people with a housing need in County Durham seems set to move a step closer next week.

The county council’s cabinet is receiving a report on the creation of a local lettings agency, which would help residents who currently struggle to access housing.

It has received funding of £252,538 from the Government’s Rapid Rehousing Pathway (RRP) programme to establish an arms-length agency, following a successful application for funding.

The new scheme would see the new local lettings agency acquiring five-year leases on private properties across the county and using these homes to house individuals, couples and families in need.

At its meeting on Wednesday, 15 January, the cabinet will be asked to approve a series of recommendations including the establishment of the agency as a company limited by guarantee. The new agency would apply to Homes England for registered provider status.

“We know there are families who struggle to access housing for various reasons including being excluded from social housing,” said Councillor Kevin Shaw, cabinet member for strategic housing and assets.

“We have a duty to provide housing to some families but sometimes it is difficult to find suitable places for them which can result in us having to provide temporary accommodation such as hotels or bed and breakfasts, which is not ideal for the families or cost effective for us.

“We are really pleased to be moving forward with the creation of the agency which will allow us to provide decent, affordable private rental accommodation for households in need and on low incomes who would previously have been unlikely to access housing, while at the same time bringing back into use empty homes.”

The report to councillors also states that 261 respondents to a survey indicated they would be interested in leasing their property, and that the agency would prioritise doing so from owners who are registered with the authority as an accredited landlord.

The agency will lease such properties for up to five years and let them directly to people who will benefit from direct support to help successfully maintain their tenancies.

According to the council, it is anticipated the agency will lease 70 properties in its first year.



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