The latest Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin has just been published by DSD for the period April to June 2013. The Bulletin is produced each quarter by the Department and contains information on new housing starts and completions, homelessness, the Residential Property Price Index and new house sales and prices.
Earlier this year the Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland, announced a series of proposals to reform social housing in Northern Ireland. In his statement, the Minister said “...change in structures is required to ensure we can continue to deliver well maintained housing stock, improve the focus on strategy and ensure value for money for taxpayers in the future.”
The Office for Fair Trading (OFT) has just launched a consultation on draft guidance which aims to help letting agents and landlords comply with existing consumer legislation.
The UK wide consultation exercise seeks to clarify how the law applies to the lettings market. It also sets out the OFT's views about how the legislation might apply at each step of the lettings process. Dealings relating to business tenants are not covered.
HM Treasury has announced that the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee Scheme is now open to lenders. The scheme offers a government guarantee to lenders in the hope that this will encourage banks and building societies to offer more mortgages to people with a small deposit. To qualify for the scheme lenders must pay a fee to the government which will then guarantee 15% of the value of the loan.
Over the last few of weeks, a number of challenges to the ‘bedroom tax’ have been heard in Great Britain. The bedroom tax is a new measure introduced under the Government’s programme of welfare reform whereby the amount of Housing Benefit which a social tenant receives will be reduced if they are regarded as under-occupying their home. The bedroom tax has not yet been introduced in Northern Ireland.
On 10th October 2013 people around the world will mark World Homeless Day. On this auspicious day Housing Rights Service is keen to draw attention to the needs of local homeless people and promote discussion on how policy makers can effectively end the scourge of homelessness.
It seems that not a day goes by without the media being dominated by stories about welfare reform and the impact that it is having on people; especially in Great Britain where Universal Credit is being gradually introduced.
As a forerunner to future changes to welfare benefits in Northern Ireland, a number of reforms to Housing Benefit (HB) have already been implemented over the last number of years.
Effective tenant involvement is the most important action a landlord can take. By involving tenants and listening to what they have to say, landlords can make better business decisions, create excellent services, save money, find lasting solutions to problems and encourage customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Every year, on the first Monday of October, International Tenants Day is celebrated around the world, and many housing organisations highlight the valuable contribution people renting their homes make to society. Housing Rights Service is keen to add its voice to marking this annual celebration of the unique role tenants play in our community and the need to enhance and protect their rights.