Housing scheme introduced to help improve quality of student homes

The following is an article provided by Palatinate.

Durham County Council have introduced a scheme incentivising student landlords to improve the quality and quantity of student housing.

Durham Student Assured Housing Scheme (DSAHS) aims to help improve the quality of private student housing by proposing a code of standards that landlords are required to keep to. The housing scheme is voluntary to join.

The scheme’s code of standards aims to uphold the safety, repair and quality of amenities in student accommodation.

Properties that reach the requirement of the scheme will be quality assured. The scheme is supported by both Durham University and Durham Students’ Union.

The scheme has been in part provoked by a study in 2012/13, commissioned by Durham County Council, which investigated the quality of student housing in Durham City centre.

Durham County Council also deals with roughly 100 complaints per year regarding the conditions of student housing.

Those who comply with the regulations of the scheme become certified as being assured on Durham County Council and Durham University webpages, and are awarded with an assured property certificate to be displayed in the property.

Over 80 landlords have signed up to the assured housing scheme since its inception in June 2015. It is scheduled to run for a period up until 31st May 2018.

Third-year Philosophy student Ottoline Spearman, who has previously written about the issues of student housing for Palatinate, said: “Anything that improves the quality of housing is a good thing.

“Landlords, especially in a place as small as Durham, can get lazy and think they can get away with over-charging students because they have no one else to rent from.”

Third-year Psychology student, Will Lewington, also spoke to Palatinate, stating: “Students shouldn’t have to worry about their accommodation in their second and third years.”

Public Health and Housing Team Leader at Durham County Council, Paul Jenkins, told Palatinate: “The DSAHS has been well received by landlords and agents of the 80 properties that have already signed up.

“The Council is confident that this figure will rise significantly in the coming weeks, given that there are a number of landlords and letting agents who have given strong indications that their applications are imminent.”

Photograph: Emma Thompson