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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

September 2014

Join us from 11.30 until 13.30 on Thursday 2nd October as we run our first ever online advice clinic.

The clinic will focus on issues facing private tenants, so if you’ve got a query about deposits, rent, repairs or housing benefit you can get in touch to find out the answer.

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Private Tenancies, Practical tips

Carmel Ferguson, Solicitor with Housing Rights, looks at another successful homeless appeal carried out by Housing Rights Service.  As experienced advisers will be aware, an appeal can only be heard in the County Court if the case involves an error of law.

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Practical tips, Homelessness, Case law, Legal

A huge thank you to everyone who attended our quiz night at the Kings Head-we hope you enjoyed your evening.  We raised a brilliant £1016!

We would like to extend our thanks to our sponsors N4 networx for sponsoring the food served, and the numerous companies who provided raffle prizes. Also, many thanks must go to the winning team who picked Housing Rights Service as their chosen charity for their prize money.

The British Labour Party has released details of plans to reform the English private rented sector in the event of it forming the next government after the General Election in May 2015.  The commitments include longer tenancies, greater security of tenure, more predictable rents, better regulation, proper enforcement of safety and decency standards and the compulsory licensing of all letting agents.

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Outside NI, Private Tenancies

Anyone involved in letting property in England, Scotland or Wales must sign up to one of three approved redress schemes by 1 October.  Agents who fail to sign up to an approved scheme face a fine of £5,000.

Redress in Northern Ireland

This law does not apply to letting agents operating in Northern Ireland.

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Private Tenancies, Landlord

In her final post for Housing Rights Service, Nicola McCrudden, Policy & Communications Manager, outlines our policy agenda for Northern Ireland.  Nicola is leaving HRS to take up the post of Director of CIH for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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As part of the ongoing review of the Housing Executive, it is anticipated that up to 2000 NIHE dwellings will transfer to housing associations.  The rationale behind this transfer is that housing associations can access private sector funds to bankroll the improvements that some of the older NIHE dwellings desperately need. 

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Social Tenancies

Housing Rights Service welcomes this long awaited consultation on proposals to introduce a developer contributions scheme for social and affordable housing in Northern Ireland. We recently submitted our response to the Department for Social Development on the topic.

The BBC recently reported on an increase in the number of court actions taken by Land & Property Services, (LPS), in response to rates arrears. Housing Rights Service can provide advice to homeowners and private tenants who are having difficulties meeting their rates payments or who are being pursued for non-payment.

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Money Matters

There have been a few promising announcements recently that aim to improve conditions in the Private Rented Sector

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Private Tenancies

MPs have voted in favour of a private members bill to make changes that would exempt tenants from the bedroom tax if they have not received a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation. 

After a 4 hour debate, Labour and the Liberal Democrat MPs came together and voted by 306 votes to 231 in favour of the bill during its second reading in the House of Commons today. The bill will now be given more time to be considered in detail by a public bill committee of MPs.

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Welfare Reform

Private landlords in the East Midlands will face fines of £3,000 if they fail to check their tenants immigration status and ensure they have the right to rent in the UK.

The first phase of this scheme will be launched on the 1st of December and will run in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Landlords in these places will be required to check the immigration status of adults entering a new tenancy.

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Minority Groups, Private Tenancies, Landlord

A major survey has revealed that social tenants, particularly in Northern Ireland and London, are dissatisfied with the services provided by their landlords.

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Outside NI, Research, Social Tenancies

Housing Rights Service believes the current housing fitness standard is unable to address the most common health and safety defects found in rented accommodation.

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Fitness, Private Tenancies, Policy