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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

May 2014

We’ve been inundated with clients asking for help overturning negative homeless decisions recently.  Because of this increase, we thought it would be useful to share one of our recent review cases with you.  

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Homelessness, Adviser

The importance of carrying out a good homelessness review on behalf of clients cannot be stressed enough. A successful review can be of tremendous importance for the future housing status of clients, often resulting in an allocation of social housing.

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Practical tips, Legal

Royal Assent has now been received for the controversial Immigration Act 2014. The Act contains 77 clauses that fundamentally change key elements of the immigration system in order to make it more difficult for migrants to enter and stay in the UK illegally.

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Private Tenancies, Landlord, Legal

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Findings  published recently revealed that household incomes, poverty rates and the labour market have all worsened in Northern Ireland (NI) in the last five years. In each case, this deterioration has been greater than in Britain.  NI also has a higher poverty rate than the rest of Ireland. Before housing costs, 21% of people in NI were in poverty in 2011 compared with 15% in the Republic of Ireland.

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Private Tenancies, Policy, Affordability

Over the last few months there has been a noticeable increase in the number of hate crime attacks reported in the local media. These attacks are primarily targeted at the homes of people from minority ethnic groups.

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Practical tips, Homelessness

The Utility Regulator has just released details of the latest energy efficiency grants available as part of the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme.

These schemes are advertised at the beginning of each financial year.  As funding is limited, anyone interested in applying for this financial assistance should start the process as quickly as possible.

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Practical tips

The Labour Party has failed in an attempt to ban letting agents from charging fees to private rented tenants.

MPs defeated by 53 votes the party’s amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill to ban letting agent fees. Only three Conservative and Lib Dem MPs supported the opposition move however five Northern Ireland MPs were in support of the amendment (Mark Durkan, Lady Herman, Naomi Long, Ian Paisley and Jim Shannon).

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Landlord, NI Assembly

The latest in a series of homelessness monitors, produced by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, was launched yesterday in Belfast. The event marked the first of the reports into homelessness in Northern Ireland and is part of a bigger project researching the impact of policy and economic developments on homelessness in each of the countries in the UK.

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Homelessness

Welfare reform is coming under further scrutiny with permission granted for a new Judicial Review on the bedroom tax and an anticipated Supreme Court decision on whether the benefit cap unjustifiably discriminates against lone parents and victims of domestic abuse.

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Welfare Reform, Legal

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed changes to our other website housingadviceNI.  This site, which had over 650,000 users in the last year and is funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, is a brilliant source of practical information on housing and homelessness in Northern Ireland.

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Practical tips

Under the Housing Benefit rules, there are certain occasions when a claimant can claim Housing Benefit on ‘two homes’ for up to 4 weeks where they could not reasonably have avoided being liable for rent on both properties.

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Legal

New legislation comes into force on 5th May 2014 which changes the required notice that must be given when the Housing Executive or a Registered Housing Association is seeking to evict a secure tenant.

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Social Tenancies, Legal