Tens of thousands of North East tenants could soon have a new landlord as a council receives the go-ahead to proceed with proposals to transfer ownership of its housing stock.
Last November, Durham County Council submitted an application to the Homes and Communities Agency and Department for Communities and Local Government to transfer its 19,000 homes to its existing housing management organisations.
The council says the transfer will ensure extra investment into the housing stock in the coming years and wipe out historic housing debt.
Now, the Government has approved the process. Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said last night: “I’m pleased we’ve been able to support Durham Council’s proposed transfer of their council housing to a new landlord, by offering to wipe out £130m of their historic housing debt.
“This transfer will be good news for tenants as it offers the opportunity to get renovations and refurbishments made to the housing stock. And we’ve agreed with Durham that leaseholders get the protections they deserve in respect of those works.”
Government approval marks the beginning of formal tenant consultation on the impact and benefits of housing transfer, the council said.
The consultation, which will run throughout the summer, will lead up to a single ballot on the council’s proposal to transfer its homes to Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes via a new housing group.
Coun Eddie Tomlinson, cabinet member for housing at Durham County Council, said: “Government approval is a monumental step in the council’s proposition and goal to improve social housing overall for the benefit of the county. Now that we have Government support, we can work with tenants and other key stakeholders across our communities to highlight what transfer would mean for them and how they can get involved in hearing about the council’s proposal, which will lead up to a tenants’ ballot.”
In the coming months tenants will be able to find out more through a series of drop-in sessions, newsletters, updates from staff and the council’s offer document itself, which will state the promises that transfer would bring.
Customers can also contact the appointed Independent Tenants’ Advisor, Open Communities, for impartial advice on what transfer would mean on freephone 0800 073 1051.