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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Policy & Research

Our policy work is based on the experiences of people who contact us for advice. We work on their behalf to secure positive changes to housing legislation, policy and practice in Northern Ireland. You can read more about what we are striving to achieve in the coming year by downloading our policy priorities.

Below, you will find copies of policy briefings, consultation responses and research papers that Housing Rights has produced recently.

Housing Rights response to draft DfC Budget 2021/22 Impact Assessment

Housing Rights welcomes many of the funding commitments in the draft budget, but is concerned at the lack of funding for initiatives to support households who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or living in unaffordable and unsustainable conditions. 

Read our response.  

Housing Rights policy briefing on review of intimidation points

In November 2020, then Minister for Communities Carál Ní Chuilín committed to reviewing intimidation points: an award of points under the current allocation scheme which provides high priority for rehousing.

Housing Rights welcomes this commitment and shares the Minister’s reservations regarding the proposal, contained in the original 2016 review of the allocation scheme, to remove intimidation points from the scheme without alternative necessary safeguards. 

This briefing paper sets out our position that a blanket removal of these points is too simple a solution for such a complex issue, and would not provide adequate protection to those in crisis whose lives are under threat.

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Social Tenancies, Homelessness

Letting fees in Northern Ireland: Briefing Paper

Letting fees are payments charged by estate agents. They include application fees and administration fees for carrying out credit and employment checks. Despite a significant court ruling in 2017, agents in Northern Ireland continue to charge fees to tenants. Housing Rights believes that the continued practice of charging unlawful letting fees illustrates that case law and Ministerial direction have not been sufficient to curb this practice. It is imperative, in our view, that legislation is brought forward to remove any ambiguity and to ensure that this unlawful practice is brought to an end. This briefing paper sets out the current legislative position in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in regards to letting fees, and highlights the omissions and ambiguities in the current legislation prohibiting such fees in Northern Ireland. 

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Private Tenancies

The ‘Perfect Storm’: The impact of Covid-19 on private renters

A new report on the impact of Covid-19 on private renters in Northern Ireland, shows that those living in the private rented sector have been disproportionately affected, caught in the ‘perfect storm’ of low incomes (often as a result of job losses, furlough or reduced hours), job insecurity and tenure insecurity. In part this may be due to the increasing proportion of low income households in the private rented sector, and as such a policy change in favour of social and affordable housing will be key to a post Covid-19 recovery. The research has also shown that the support that many households received has been immensely helpful, but it has also shown us that it is important to remember that we may all be in the same storm, but we are definitely not in the same boat.

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Coronavirus, Legislation, Regulation, Research, Private Tenancies, Policy

Using the private rented sector to discharge the statutory duty to homeless households

In their 2017 Fundamental Review of Social Housing Allocations, the Department for Communities proposed that the Northern Ireland Housing Executive could meet its statutory duty to provide accommodation to homeless households by offering said households a tenancy in the private rented sector, subject to certain conditions. Given the lack of available social housing, Housing Rights appreciates the need for urgent action to address the growing waiting list for social housing and, in particular, the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness and waiting for unacceptably long periods for a new home. Housing Rights believes however that the sub sector of the private rented sector which would typically be accessible to homeless households provides neither an appropriate nor reasonable response to this problem. This policy briefing explains our position. 

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Policy, Homelessness

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