More than 100 private landlords and industry partners came together to share best practice in an event which took place during national empty homes week.

The private landlord seminar, the first of its kind organised by Durham County Council, included sessions on Universal Credit, tenancy deposit schemes and updates in legislation and was attended by partners from Durham Constabulary, the fire and rescue service and Northumbrian Water and many others.

Landlords were also given information about the council’s Private Landlord Accreditation Scheme, which can help and support their business in managing tenancies and bringing their empty homes back into use.

Cllr Kevin Shaw, Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “It was extremely encouraging to see so many landlords attend this session to share information, raise any of their own concerns and find out more about the work we are doing to support the private rented sector.

“Since April 2017, almost 800 landlords and owners have received support from the council’s private sector initiatives team and with the significant recent changes to legislation, including the roll-out of Universal Credit, we are in unprecedented times.We will continue to tackle these issues and will work hard to increase the supply of affordable accommodation across the county.”

Landlords who sign up to the accreditation scheme are given the opportunity to advertise their properties on the Durham Key Options website, which has seen 96 properties let since April this year.

The team work hard to engage with owners of empty properties and over the same period, 120 properties have been brought back into use.

Earlier this year, Durham County Council private sector initiatives officer Claire Storey was highly commended for the Empty Homes Officer of the Year award by the Empty Homes Network.

“The whole team works exceptionally hard to bring empty properties back into use and I was delighted to be recognised in this way,” she said. By providing advice and support to landlords we have helped reduce the number of vacant properties in the area, meeting our targets for the last three years running.”

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