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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

July 2013

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Campaigners have lost a legal challenge to social housing benefit cuts for residents with spare bedrooms in Britain.

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Social Tenancies, Welfare Reform, Affordability

As representatives on the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment (DETI) Financial Capability Forum Housing Rights Service has contributed to the development of a Financial Capability Strategy for Northern Ireland (NI). 

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Policy, Affordability, NI Assembly
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The Department for Social Development (DSD) has indicated in the Housing Strategy Action Plan a need to establish a working group to identify ways of lessening the impact of repossession in Northern Ireland.  Following a recent consultation event the Committee for Social Development has made recommendations to the DSD to assist in the formulation of this working group.

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Affordability, NI Assembly, Repossession

The Department of Finance and Personnel has launched a second stage consultation exercise seeking views on a proposed way forward for rates support from April 2014. The changes are needed as a result of the UK government’s decision to remove the council tax element of housing benefit in Britain and the rate rebate element in Northern Ireland.

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Policy, Affordability, NI Assembly
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Many applications for possession orders are made by lenders who have a second charge on the defendant’s home.  Carmel Ferguson, Solicitor and member of the Legal Team at Housing Rights Service, discusses the Chancery Court’s approach to these proceedings when the property is in negative equity.

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Repossession, Practical tips, Legal
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The Department for Social Development released its Housing Strategy "Facing the Future" for consultation in October 2012. With little fanfare, the Department has now published an Action Plan to deliver this strategy.  The plan sets out a number of objectives and actions for the next four years (to 2017) and includes the key themes originally proposed in the consultation paper:

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Social Tenancies, Private Tenancies, Policy, NI Assembly

Ben Beadle, Director of TDS Northern Ireland gives his take on how best to avoid disputes over deposits.  Ben has previously worked on the adjudication team in TDS and has first hand experience in mediating disputes between tenants and landlords. 

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Landlord, Private Tenancies

The Department for Social Development has written to stakeholders about the delay to the landlord registration scheme.

Regulations for the scheme were approved by the NI Assembly in September 2012 and it was intended that the scheme would be operative by June 2013.

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Landlord, NI Assembly, Private Tenancies

On 1st July 2013 Croatia became the latest country to join the European Union. This means that Croatian citizens have the right of free movement within the countries included in the European Economic Area. However, the UK government has put in place provisions which will restrict the ability of Croatian nationals to access the UK labour market. These restrictions will last until at least 30th June 2018, but may be extended to 30th June 2020.

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Legal, Practical tips
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The Department for Social Development will be setting up a working group on repossession and negative equity. It will examine the extent of the problem and consider options for government intervention.

The current level of repossession actions in Northern Ireland is the highest in the UK.  Recent Courts & Tribunal Service statistics show that over 1000 cases were received to the High Court between January and March 2013, representing a 19% increase on the same period last year.

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Affordability, NI Assembly, Repossession