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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

January 2016

Since it was established in 2012, the Private Tenants’ Forum has worked to raise awareness of the issues which prevail in the private rented sector (PRS) and to promote reform of the sector. The Forum was set up against the backdrop of a changing sector in Northern Ireland. From 1991 – 2011 there was a huge increase of 505% in the number of people living in the private rented sector. Around 1 in 5 people now live in the sector.

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Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies

A roundup of recent housing related questions asked in the Assembly. 

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NI Assembly

Plans to increase the level of tenant participation have just been published by the Department for Social Development. ‘A Tenant Participation Strategy for NI: 2015 to 2020’ sets out the actions that social landlords should take to give tenants the opportunity to have a say in the decisions that affect them.

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Social Tenancies

Recently, a social worker contacted Housing Rights to ask if we could help his client John.  John’s home had been left in a poor state of repair after adaptations were carried out and his housing association had told him that he’d have to cover the cost of redecorating himself.

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Minority Groups, Social Tenancies, Practical tips, Equality, Adviser

The Department for Social Development’s Housing Supply Forum has published its Report and Recommendations on increasing housing supply in Northern Ireland.

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Regulation, NI Assembly

The Assembly’s Social Development Committee has published its Report on the Housing (Amendment) Bill. In this, the Committee have accepted two recommendations made by Housing Rights in written and oral evidence.

The Housing (Amendment) Bill was introduced to the Assembly in 2015; amongst other clauses, the Bill aimed to allow information-sharing to and between the NI Housing Executive and registered housing associations in relation to antisocial behaviour.

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Policy, NI Assembly, Legal

Professor Eileen Evason’s working group has published its report on how Welfare Reform should be mitigated by the NI Executive. The group’s recommendations include the full mitigation of the “bedroom tax”, and the mitigation of the household benefits cap, for an initial period of 4 years.

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Benefits, Money Matters, Social Tenancies, Welfare Reform, Policy

Despite numerous efforts to promote and publicise the need for landlords to protect any deposits paid since 1 April 2013, many of our clients still report that their deposits have not been protected.

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Private Tenancies

From February 2016 landlords in England face financial penalties and prosecution if they rent to someone who does not have a legal right to be in the UK.  The roll out of the "right to rent checks", introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, has not yet reached Northern Ireland and local landlords can continue to do business as usual.

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Minority Groups, Private Tenancies, Landlord

At its latest People and Communities Committee meeting, Belfast City Council considered its response to the Department for Social Development’s Review of the Private Rented Sector.

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Fitness, Private Tenancies, Policy, Landlord

The last few months have seen parts of Northern Ireland deluged with rain.  An emergency meeting of Assembly ministers was called yesterday to work out an adequate response to assist those affected by floodwaters.  A total flooding fund of £1.3 million has been made available from Westminister to deal with flooding, but departments have not yet decided how this will be allocated.

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Practical tips

With the DSD’s Review of the Private Rented Sector ongoing, Housing Rights has prepared a policy briefing on the need for improved regulations in the charging of letting fees in Northern Ireland.

What are letting fees?

Letting fees are additional charges imposed for services included in the routine letting and management of a property.

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Private Tenancies, Affordability, Landlord

January is traditionally a busy time of year for our debt services and this year looks to be no different.  We're keen to encourage any one who is having difficulties paying their mortgage to speak to our mortgage debt advisers and to start taking action to save their homes.  

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Repossession, Affordability