Durham leads the way with Covid help package for landlords
An innovative new scheme in County Durham has been launched to help landlords find alternatives to eviction.
Stop B4 You Serve is the council’s new initiative aimed at landlords considering serving a possession order on their tenants, helping them avoid the costly and lengthy legal process once the courts reopen next month. Read here for more details.
Courts will continue the pause on possession hearings until 20 September, extending the ban on evictions in the UK for a month, figures close to one of the UK’s most senior judges have said.
A former paramedic and armed forces veteran has had his life 'transformed' by a new wheelchair accessible bungalow in Seaham.
Derek Stenson was finding life in his previous, private rented house difficult, but his new bungalow has changed all that.
“I couldn’t manage the stairs it was getting ridiculous; here I’ve been transformed. My mental health has been transformed. It’s really quiet, we used to live on a main road.” Said Derek, who served in the armed forces from the age of 16 and worked in the coal industry before becoming a paramedic in Wales.
The new bungalow is the first three-bedroom dormer bungalow completed by County Durham-based believe housing on a redundant site in Seaham. The housing association has built a pair of the dormer bungalows alongside 16 traditional two-bedroom bungalows as part of a 48-home development in Heathway in the Parkside area of the east Durham town.
All the new homes are part of believe housing’s £90m, 700 home new-build programme. The award-winning programme is bringing new homes to dozens of sites across the region by 2022. It is also supporting around 2,100 jobs and providing new apprenticeship opportunities.
The programme has already completed bungalows in locations like Rookhope and St Helen Auckland, but the pair in Seaham are the first designed to help larger families like Derek’s who need a home suitable for wheelchair users.
Derek moved into his new wheelchair-accessible home with his wife Donna, two children and their pets once coronavirus restrictions allowed construction to be completed.
“The wet room has made a 100 per cent difference.” Added Derek. “I’ve got limited movement in my shoulders. It’s like I’ve been given a second chance, I’m very independent.”
believe housing is backing the National Housing Federation’s ‘Homes at the Heart’ campaign. The campaign is calling for more investment in social housing as a means of tackling the housing crisis and injecting boosting the economy and creating jobs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief Executive of believe housing, Bill Fullen, said: “It’s great to see that Derek and his family have settled in so quickly. The new bungalow is clearly making a major difference to the quality of their lives.
“Obviously our new homes are designed to help people like Derek, but they also help the economy, provide jobs and transform brownfield sites. There are few investments that can provide a better return for our communities. That’s why we’re backing calls for more investment in social housing as a key part of the recovery from coronavirus.”
A redundant site in the Parkside area of Seaham has been transformed with 48 new low-cost homes by a leading housing association.
The 30 family homes and 18 bungalows have been built on a brown field site in Heathway by Seaham based believe housing. The last new families are due to move in this month after construction, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, was completed.
All 30 of the three-bedroom family houses have been constructed as part of the m!ne ‘Rent to Buy’ programme. m!ne is believe housing’s rent to buy arm.
The homes created by m!ne help to bridge the gap between rental and traditional home ownership, allowing more people to climb the property ladder. The government backed initiative is designed to ease the transition from renting to buying a home by providing subsidised rent; usually around 20% below the market rate.
Claire Coakley and her partner have been living in the area for some time, but thought that the up-front cash required to buy a new house was impossible for them to achieve until they learnt about m!ne.
“We’d been looking to buy but saving the deposit meant we couldn’t. We’ve been renting, then we saw this come up. This was a lot cheaper.” Said Claire.
“The day before lockdown we were meant to get our keys, but it was worth the wait. I can’t believe how big the house is. It’s lovely; it feels like a home already.”
Nearly 200 new-build homes have now been completed under the ‘m!ne’ Rent to Buy programme. They are part of an award-winning 700 home construction project by believe housing to meet demand for affordable housing in the north east.
Development Project Manager from believe housing, Rebecca Marshall, said: “It’s great to see families settling into their new homes now. These homes were created specifically to help people who had no other route onto the property ladder and they’re doing just that.
“There might have been a short delay during the height of the pandemic, but we got our construction back on track as soon as it was safe to. Now we’re back underway at all of our new-build sites, supporting local jobs and the economy as well as providing high-quality affordable housing.”
Universal Credit systems will be changed so that social landlords receive direct rent payments on the same day that tenants are paid the rest of their benefits from next month, the government has announced.
The change is expected to save housing associations and councils thousands of hours in administrative work.