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Participants in a discussion about student housing pictured outside the Confluence Building

We've met with the City of Durham MP, Durham County Council, City of Durham Parish Council, Durham Students’ Union, letting agents, independent landlords and representatives of Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) providers to discuss student accommodation.

The two-hour meeting, on Friday 12 May, was chaired by City of Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy and facilitated and hosted by ourselves.  

Over 30 representatives of the different groups with an interest in student accommodation participated, united by a common aim to ensure the student housing market functions well for everyone in Durham.  

A key proposal discussed was a voluntary Joint Code of Practice for letting and advertising properties to students. Work on this will begin shortly, with the hope that all letting agents active in Durham, the University and Durham Students’ Union will sign up.  

'A welcome first step'

Mary Kelly Foy MP said: “This meeting was a welcome first step towards improving the student rental market in Durham.  

“In recent times there has been growing evidence that the current housing system is not working for students or residents. As the elected representative of everyone in our city, it has been heartening to see the University, County Council and other vitally important stakeholders proactively engage with this new process.  

“I hope this forum will continue as a means to open, frank and constructive discussion of these important issues and that practical resolutions can be agreed together in the near future.” 

'Committed to improving the student housing system'

Jeremy Cook, our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Colleges and Student Experience, said: “We are committed to improving the student housing system and processes in Durham so that they work well for everyone. 

“It was very positive to have so many Letting Agents and interested parties involved in this first discussion. There is much to do, and we will now work hard with all stakeholders to deliver a Joint Code of Practice for letting student properties that we hope all parties feel able to sign.” 

Working together with partners

Laura Curran, Durham Students’ Union Welfare and Liberation Officer, said: “A Code of Practice agreed upon by these stakeholders is a first step in addressing the long-term problems within Durham’s student housing market. As Welfare and Liberation Officer, I have strived to highlight the issues students have experienced this year throughout the process, as these are central to resolving the failures that were on display for the whole country to see. 

“Although the Code of Practice will not immediately alleviate all of the pressures and hardship students face, it is still a commitment from the University, letting agents, private landlords, and the County Council to do right by students in this space – something we have been demanding for years.” 

Chair of the City of Durham Parish Council Councillor Alan Doig said: "Long-standing student accommodation issues affect all of the communities in the Parish Council's area, so it is a very significant and welcome step for the University to seek solutions in partnership with elected representatives and accommodation providers.   

“The aim should be to ensure sufficient and balanced accommodation in locations that ensure harmonious community relations." 

Some background...

We have 22,000 students for the 2022/23 academic year. We reduced our student intake by almost 1,000 for 2022/23, having had higher-than-anticipated intakes in 2020 and 2021 due to unexpected shifts in the grading of A-levels.  

The meeting of Friday 12 May complements the work of a multi-agency Housing Strategy Group we established last year, as well as the long-established Durham University and Residents Forum.  

Letting agents in attendance were: Robinsons, Rise Sales & Lettings, Frampton & Roebuck, Your Move, Chris Stonock Lettings, Nicholas Humphreys, Ben Charles, Bradley Hall, Evenmore Properties, Student Castle, Loc8me, Bow Residential, Harringtons, Hope Estates, Morgan Douglas, Fresh Student Living, Homes for Students, GMJ Properties, Durham Group Estates, Mansion Group, Unite and CityBlock. 

Find out more

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- Read our Student Blog