Did you know that you could move home more quickly by registering for ‘HomeSwap’?
HomeSwap is a mutual exchange scheme available through Durham Key Options, which enables two or more tenants (with our 7 housing partners- Cestria, Dale and Valley Homes, Derwentside Homes, Durham City Homes, East Durham Homes, livin and North Star Housin) to switch homes.
By swapping tenancies with another household, you may be able to move more quickly – and this includes to homes outside of County Durham.
Available homes for exchange are advertised online here (tick 'Mutual Exchange' when searching).
For further information please go to our DKO HomeSwap page.
From 1 April 2019, the way Housing Benefit [or the housing element of Universal Credit] is calculated will be changing.
What does it mean for me?
If you have signed a new or renewed tenancy from 1 April 2016 [1 April 2017 for supported accommodation tenancies] onwards, the amount of Housing Benefit [or the Housing element of Universal Credit] that you may receive from 1 April 2019 could be restricted.
This is because if you rent from a local authority, a registered housing association or other registered social landlord the amount of Housing Benefit [or the housing element of Universal Credit] you will receive will be capped to the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household size that currently applies to private sector tenants. The Local Housing Allowance rates for your area can be found at http://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/Search.aspx
If you are under 35 years old and do not have any dependent children living with you, your eligible rent will be capped to a shared accommodation rate even if you do not share your home with anyone else.
Will I also have to pay for any spare rooms?
If you are of working age and have one or more extra bedrooms, your rent and any service charges used in the assessment of your Housing Benefit [or the housing element of Universal Credit] is already capped.
If the difference between your rent and the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household is higher than the reduction for under-occupied bedrooms, only the cap will apply. Similarly, if the reduction for under-occupied bedrooms is higher than the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household, only the reduction for under-occupied bedrooms will apply.
If you are of pension age, you will not receive a reduction in the rent used to assess your Housing Benefit for any under-occupied bedrooms but your rent will be capped to the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household.
Please note – in all cases, you will only receive one reduction.
What do I need to do now?
If you sign a new tenancy or renew a tenancy after 1 April 2016 [1 April 2017 for supported accommodation] you will need to think about whether the rent you pay in the social sector is higher than that allowed for private rented sector tenants.
In particular, if you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit on or after 1 April 2019, you will need to consider how your will afford any shortfall in your rent. The website links above will help you to determine whether your rent is above the Local Housing Allowance rates for your area.
If you are unsure if this applies to you, please contact Durham County Council or your local landlord.
North Star has recently launched a new Company brand, bringing together the identity of North Star, Endeavour and Teesdale Housing Association.
Both Endeavour and Teesdale have a strong heritage of giving people so much more than a place to live, and this is something that’s set to continue under the new North Star brand.
What does this mean for tenants?
You can still expect the same high quality services and friendly staff that have helped make Endeavour and Teesdale great. You shouldn’t notice any change at all to the services you use, you’ll just see a new name, and a new look.
livin currently have a variety of homes available in the Shildon and West Cornforth areas. These villages offer excellent links to nearby cities and towns such as Durham, Bishop Auckland and Darlington- as well as being close by to townships such as Spennymoor and Newton Aycliffe.
Register your interest or sign up before Christmas! New tenants with livin may also qualify for start up assistance offers, to help you with the cost of setting up your new home for the new year. If you are interested, please contact us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
Durham City Homes have announced the completion of the first of their properties to have work carried out to the new, higher specification, Durham Standard.
The Durham Standard, which was developed in partnership with tenants, means that as of April 2015, homes that require modernisation works will be upgraded to a new specification, with additions including flooring and decorating to the bathroom and kitchen and both gas and electrical cooker points in the kitchen. This exceeds the criteria of the Government’s Decent Homes Standard introduced in 2000 and means tenants will receive the highest standard of planned improvements work than ever delivered by Durham City Homes before.
The standard will also ensure consistent refurbishments across the other County Durham Housing Group landlords, Dale and Valley Homes and East Durham Homes, bringing best practise from all three organisations to provide the highest quality services and products possible to tenants.
Lynn Jordison, Chair of Durham City Homes Board, said “This is great news for the tenants of Durham City Homes. We want to provide houses that people are proud to live in and that’s exactly what these improvements will achieve.
“But the Durham standard is just one of the positive changes that Durham City Homes is making as a result of stock transfer. We are committed to fulfilling our promises to tenants and this shows the great things that are to come.”
The Durham Standard specification will be applied to all homes planned in the capital works programme as of April 2015.
For more information on the Durham Standard please contact Tony Jones, Technical Manager at Durham City Homes on 0800 068 0013/ 0191 301 8470.