Financial contributions from student landlords have helped the “Green Move Out” operation in Durham City this year.
The City of Durham Parish Council took the unprecedented step of writing to each student landlord in Durham to request a financial contribution towards its precept in an effort to clean up the City – a move which many local residents described as “long overdue”.
Councillors voted to make this request at the Full Council meeting in March this year. Councillors voiced concerns that waste and noise associated with student properties were a regular source of complaint from neighbouring residents and the Parish Council expressed the desire to work proactively with the private-rental sector to tackle these issues at their source.
The appeal itself generated over £3,500 from local landlords and the University – itself a student accommodation provider – and this helped to provide additional collections on Sundays in and around the Move Out operation as well as extra neighbourhood wardens.
Over 4,340 properties in Durham City alone are now registered as student properties and therefore exempt from paying any Council tax at all – including tax payable to the Parish Council, Police, Fire Service and more. In the financial year 2019/20, a total of £7,429,000 was lost in Council tax revenue due to Class M and Class N (student) exemptions. The figure for 2020/21 increased significantly by £1,368,335 to £8,797,335. This has a huge implication for the delivery of services.
Chair of the Parish Council’s Environment Committee Coun. Carole Lattin (pictured) said: “We are delighted to work so proactively with the private-rental sector in Durham and to have received this contribution to our appeal from a number of landlords. This is very much partner-driven as we all recognise the benefits of maintaining our City as a safe, clean and green area for all to enjoy.”
She added: “I think the appeal raised a few eyebrows as no other University City Council has done this before but the Parish Council was elected to blaze a trail and that is what we are doing. These are small steps and the majority of donations came from individual landlords, Loc8me and the University. Sadly, a number of the bigger players in the market did not contribute to our appeal this year but this is something we hope to build on as the benefits of extra waste collection and neighbourhood wardens in the City during the Move Out operation were clear to us.”
Recent meetings of the Parish Council’s Environment Committee and Business Committee have agreed to continue this appeal into the future.