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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

July 2015

Housing Rights will be holding its annual conference on the future of private renting in Northern Ireland on Tuesday 17 November 2015 in Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road, Belfast.

This one-day conference will open up debate on how to ensure the Northern Ireland private rented sector is fit for purpose.

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Private Tenancies, Policy

The latest Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin shows that there has been an increase of 16% (687) in the number of households presenting as homeless to the Housing Executive, compared to the previous quarter.

Solicitor Chris McGrath discusses some recent Housing Rights cases where victims of domestic violence and intimidation have been required to fulfil the requirements of the introductory tenancy scheme despite being long standing secure tenants.

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Social Tenancies, NI Assembly, Legal

Housing Rights Training Officer Bronagh McCulla talks about looking forward to taking our upcoming training course Made of Money – Financial Capability Skills.

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Money Matters, Practical tips

Eamonn McLaughlin is one half of Housing Rights’s Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme.  Eamonn and his colleague  Maria travel across Northern Ireland offering free representation services to tenants and homeowners who have come to court to deal with mortgage or rent arrears.   Here, Eamonn discusses a recent morning at court when he met Grace, a Housing Executive tenant who’d fallen behind on her rent.

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Repossession, Social Tenancies

Debt management firms under scrutiny

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has carried out  research that highlights concerns regarding practices of some fee charging debt management companies.  

The terms of the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 placed a legal duty on the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly “to adopt a strategy setting out how it proposed to tackle poverty, social exclusion and patterns of deprivation based on objective need

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NI Assembly, Legal

Back in 2013 the Department for Social Development (DSD) issued guidance (Memo 3/13) on allowing Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to be paid for an extra bedroom where a disabled child cannot share a bedroom with other children for medical reasons.

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Benefits, Private Tenancies, Practical tips, Case law

Carmel Ferguson, solicitor with Housing Rights, looks at a UK Court of Appeal cases which considered whether the value of a care facility resident's home could be disregarded if the resident's child intended to return to live in it at a later date.

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Case law, Legal

The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his budget to Parliament on Wednesday 8th July.  The full budget and supporting documents can be found on Gov.uk. We've rounded up some of the headline announcements which will impact on those who work in housing. 

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Benefits, Outside NI, Affordability, NI Assembly

At the end of June 2015 over 42,000 private landlords had registered with the NI landlord registration registrar.  These landlords have provided details of over 89,000 private tenancies.  Using information from the 2011 census, the Department for Social Development suggests that roughly 94% of landlords have complied with the requirement to register.

Private landlords who fail to register may face a fixed penalty of £500 or a fine of up to £2,500.

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Regulation, Private Tenancies, Landlord

A round up of housing related questions answered by the Minister for Social Development during June 2015

Eligibility for the Affordable Warmth Scheme

To ask the Minister for Social Development whether he plans to revise the guidelines for eligibility to the Affordable Warmth Scheme to exclude Disability Living Allowance as part of the income threshold. Mrs Dolores Kelly (SDLP - Upper Bann) AQW 47005/11-15

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Social Tenancies, Private Tenancies, Policy, NI Assembly

The interest rate used to calculate how much help homeowners can get towards the interest on their mortgage is falling to 3.12% from 6 July 2015.  It's important that any homeowners who receive this payment as part of their benefits understand how this change will affect them.

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Benefits, Money Matters, Repossession, Affordability

Crisis has released a report into the costs of single homelessness in the UK.   The report finds that preventing homelessness is a much more cost effective approach than dealing with the social issues associated with homelessness.

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Outside NI, Homelessness