In late 2022, Mary was shocked to hear reports of students queueing overnight to access accommodation for their second year of university. As the bulk of students live out of college after year one, and numbers of students had increased due to the pandemic, there was a real fear amongst the student population that they may be left without a room if they didn’t access one straight away. This led to many students camping outside lettings agents in the city, in the winter months simply to ensure they had somewhere to live the following year.
To ensure this wasn’t repeated, Mary reached to letting agents, Durham Students Union and Durham University to try and discover the causes of this panic, as well as setting plans in place to reassure students that they would have access to accommodation in the future.
So, in early 2023, along with Durham University, Mary convened a meeting with letting agents to discuss the introduction of a code of practice that would ensure that the release of properties is more managed in future. Letting agents will be asked to hold properties until later in the academic year, so students are more familiar with their new city, and are comfortable in their friendship groups; to allow a reasonable amount of time for students to complete the paperwork, and with an eye to introducing certain standards of property that will be let.
This plan is backed by the Students’ Union, with the aim of giving a ‘seal of approval; from the union and the university to letting agents who sign up to the scheme. Work is now ongoing to create the code of practice, with a more long-term aim to roll this out further to individual landlords.
You can read more about the first meeting to discuss a code of practice here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-65772372