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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

October 2013

Stewart Smyth is a lecturer at Queen’s University Management School, Belfast. Before joining academia, Stewart worked for many years as an accountant in industry, practice and the public sector.

He researches and writes on the neo-liberalisation of public services and social movements, including public housing and grass-roots tenants’ campaigns.

Below he describes what he would ask for if granted three wishes by the Housing Genie.

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Housing Genie

Stewart Smyth is a lecturer at Queen’s University Management School, Belfast. Before joining academia, Stewart worked for many years as an accountant in industry, practice and the public sector.

He researches and writes on the neo-liberalisation of public services and social movements, including public housing and grass-roots tenants’ campaigns.

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Social Tenancies, Opinion

Housing Rights Service is involved in discussions around the future of rates support in Northern Ireland and has responded to a recent Government consultation. Nicola McCrudden, our Policy Manager, outlines our views.

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Welfare Reform, Policy

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.

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Homelessness

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.”

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Social Tenancies

The Office for Fair Trading (OFT) has just launched a consultation on draft guidance which aims to help letting agents and landlords comply with existing consumer legislation.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. 

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Private Tenancies, Legal

Nicola McCrudden, Policy Manager with Housing Rights Service, reflects on her recent attendance at a European Housing conference and what can be applied to Northern Ireland.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend a European conference on tackling homelessness organised by Feantsa,  the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless.

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Homelessness

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.

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Affordability

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.

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Social Tenancies, Welfare Reform, Legal

The decisions of the Supreme Court in the cases of Pinnock and Powell in 2010 and 2011 opened up the possibility of using a human rights argument when advising clients faced with possession action.

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Repossession, Case law

The need for a fresh look at helping the homeless

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.

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Private Tenancies, 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.

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Social Tenancies, Welfare Reform

Achieving Excellence through Tenant Involvement

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.

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Social Tenancies, Private Tenancies, Landlord

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.

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Private Tenancies