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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

August 2015

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

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NI Assembly

Toni and Marc came to Housing Rights for help when they feared that they’d lose their home.  Toni and Marc bought their home back in 2003.  Since moving in they’d had three children:  Jordan, Sam and Lily.   Catherine, one of our advisers, had to make an application for a stay when negotiating with the lender proved fruitless.

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Repossession, Practical tips, Adviser

The Department for Social Development recently produced its Response Report to the Tenant Participation Strategy Consultation. The Tenant Participation consultation is part of a wider programme of reform in the social rented sector.

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Regulation, Social Tenancies, Policy

Certain decisions made by the Housing Executive can be reviewed by following a procedure laid out in the Housing Amendment Act (NI) 2011.  These include decisions on whether or not someone is a Full Duty Applicant and on whether the accommodation offered to a homeless person is reasonable.

The applicant also has a right to appeal to the county court if the review is unsuccessful, but they can only appeal on a point of law.

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Practical tips, Homelessness, Legal

A guarantor is someone who has agreed to be responsible for the tenant’s obligations as determined by the tenancy agreement.  In Northern Ireland, guarantors were traditionally sought for student tenancies, but this practice seems to be becoming prevalent across the wider private rented market.

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Private Tenancies, Practical tips, Landlord

Our Beyond the Gate project aims to prevent homelessness amongst people leaving prison by ensuring that they have all the necessary support to aid their transition back into independent living.  Caoimhe, a support worker with Beyond the Gate discusses a recent success story.  The client’s name has been changed.

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Minority Groups, Homelessness

Rumours abound that interest rates will rise in the near future and this has led to a remortgaging scurry.  Meanwhile, older borrowers may have difficulties finding affordable long term deals. 

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Money Matters, Regulation, Affordability

As the new university term approaches, Ursula Toner takes a look at student eligibility for housing benefit.  

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Benefits, Social Tenancies, Private Tenancies, Affordability

The last few years has seen an increase in the number of food banks operating in Northern Ireland. The Department for Social Development (DSD) recently undertook research to better understand why people need to use them.

Their research, An Insight into Food Banks in Northern Ireland,  found that a third of people in Northern Ireland have to use the food banks because of their low income.

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Benefits, Affordability

Recent press reports focused on news that nearly 1,300 incidents of paramilitaries forcing people from their homes have been reported in Northern Ireland in the past three years.

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Practical tips, Homelessness

At Housing Rights, we hear from lots of tenants who have all kinds of understandable reasons for leaving a property before the contract ends.  These range from students who’ve had to leave university unexpectedly, to people who have become ill and for whom a property is no longer suitable, to families who are living in substandard properties and whose requests for repairs go unheeded by the landlord

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Private Tenancies, Practical tips

Jim Fraser from Trading Standards considers the need for letting agents to provide important information about protecting deposits to tenants from a consumer rights perspective.

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Private Tenancies, Landlord

Under the current tax allowance system landlords and companies involved in letting furnished property can claim tax relief equal to 10% of the rent received to cover wear and tear.  Landlords can claim this relief whether or not any expense was incurred.  Only landlords letting fully furnished properties can apply for this relief. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a change to this system in the summer 2015 budget.

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