AN MP has called for the council to bring in new business rates for student landlords.

City of Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods says the levy would help make up the shortfall caused by a reduction in grant funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which as previously compensated Durham County Council for the number of student properties in the city, which are exempt from council tax.

The most recent figures available from the department say there are around 2,000 properties in the county which are exempt from paying council tax because all the tenants are students.

Dr Blackman-Woods said: “I think the more councils do this the better because they are businesses. The council used to get compensation for the number of student properties from the DCLG. That compensation has been reduced.

“The only way the council will be able to make up the shortfall will be to look at business rates. I have asked Durham to do that.

“My view is that student landlords will have to pay business rates. Landlords make substantial profit and should be prepared to pay business rates because they are running a business.”

The move follows plans by Liverpool Council to look at charging student landlords business rates.

In September the authority voted in favour of looking at the proposal and has set up a working group to consider the issue.

Dawn Pirie, student property manager for JW Woods, which represents about 130 landlords in the city, said: “I can understand them wanting to recoup some of the revenue but the students contribute so much to the city. The city would not be as buoyant without them.

“They might be exempt from paying council tax but looking at the bigger picture the economic benefits are much greater.

“They seem to be doing a lot to limit the impact of students but noone seems to be taken into account the gains the city centre gets.”

She added: “A lot of landlords are local people and they are already paying business rates and council tax.”