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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

October 2014

Campaigners, representing the 106 organisations that provide services under the Supporting People programme, are calling on MLAs to commit to continuing these services for vulnerable people.

Pictured with Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey MLA are Michael Abiona (NIACRO service user), Patricia Hyde, Declan O’Neill and Alex Patterson (Triangle), and  Moira McKeown (NIACRO).

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Policy, NI Assembly

Two topics that often strike fear into the heart of an adviser are protected tenancies and the appointment of a receiver.  We recently had a case where both these issues combined, causing much confusion and distress to the tenant.

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Repossession, Private Tenancies, Practical tips, Adviser

Carmel Ferguson, Solicitor with Housing Rights Service discusses the possibility of using estoppel as a defence in possession proceedings. 

A recent query on our advice line raised the question of whether the principle of estoppel could be used as a defence to certain possession proceedings in the private sector.

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Private Tenancies, Practical tips, Legal

A little piece of history was made last week when, for the first time, MLAs heard directly from private tenants about their experiences of living in the private rented sector. The meeting followed on from the Committee for Social Development’s attendance at Housing Rights Service where they conducted their normal weekly business meeting.

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Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies, NI Assembly

The Department for Social Development has published the Northern Ireland Housing Statistics for 2013/14. These can be downloaded from the DSD website.

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Research, Social Tenancies, Private Tenancies, Homelessness, Affordability

A safe and secure home is fundamental in helping offenders make a positive contribution to society. But often ex offenders and those charged with criminal activity will face many housing difficulties. 

Whether your client has been released on bail, held on remand or released after serving a sentence, they may come to you with worries about

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Minority Groups, Practical tips, Homelessness

Housing Rights Service played host to the Committee for Social Development today.  During the meeting, Dr Heloise Brown and Paul Price from the Department of Social Development (DSD) summarised public responses to recent proposals to reform the allocation system for social housing and answered members' questions on this issue. 

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Research, Social Tenancies, Policy, NI Assembly

Analysis by NICVA to be launched on Thursday 23rd October will show that the Housing Association sector in NI is growing at more than double the rate of those in the UK.

The UK comparison

According to the NICVA research, growth of housing association homes was up 5.4% in Northern Ireland over the financial year, compared with 2.4% in England, 2% in Wales and 0% in Scotland.

Cameron Watt, chief executive of NIFHA, said:

The DUP has proposed a new fund to help those transitioning from Disability Living Allowance on to the new Personal Independence Payment.  

First Minister Peter Robinson has put the party’s proposals to Secretary of State Teresa Villiers.   Mr Robinson believes that these measures will mean many of the most vulnerable people in Northern Ireland will “come out of the transfer to PIP with the same level of payments or better off."

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Policy, NI Assembly

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Social Development Committee will hold its next meeting at 10am on Thursday 23 October  at Housing Rights Service.

Committee members will receive a briefing from the Social Security Agency on Improving Benefit Uptake and from Department for Social Development officials on the Fundamental Review of Social Housing Allocations Policy.

The Affordable Warmth Scheme, a 3 year scheme launched in 2014, is aimed at improving the energy efficiency of private sector homes in Northern Ireland. Certain private tenants or homeowners with an income of less than £20,000 may be entitled to grant assistance to help with the cost of some heating and insulation measures.

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Fitness, Money Matters, Practical tips

In December 2013 the Department for Social Development (DSD) published an independent research report outlining recommended changes to the current social housing allocations system.   DSD invited stakeholders to respond to the recommendations contained therein and have now release a summary of these responses.

Recommendations with high level of support

A number of the proposals in the paper were popular with respondents.  These included

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Social Tenancies, Policy, Landlord

The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector has published a report, funded by the Residential Landlords Association, which recommends a full review into the operation of the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR).  

Limitations of shared housing

The report contains a number of interesting findings;

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Benefits, Outside NI, Private Tenancies, Welfare Reform

On World Mental Health day it is worth remembering that 1 in 4 people in UK will suffer from mental ill health at some point in their lives. People with poor mental health can experience problems finding and maintaining suitable accommodation, yet having a home is often the foundation upon which recovery must be built.

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Equality

On the 10th of October 2014 people around the world mark World Homeless Day. Housing Rights Service believes everyone should have a home. We have been working for 50 years to help ensure that local people have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. 

The importance of having a home

Having a home is critical to the well being of individuals and families, and also to the wider community in which we all live.

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Homelessness

The 2014 Liberal Democrat conference has ended, allowing us to roundup some of the housing key areas which they would like to address if they are back in Government after the next election.

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Policy

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a range of measures to reform its private tenancy system.  The consultation exercise has been driven by recent changes to the private rented sector in Scotland, where this tenure now accounts for more than 330,000 households.  Since 1999, there has been an increase in the amount of private accommodation rented to families and to those seeking a long term home. 

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Outside NI, Private Tenancies, Policy, Landlord

Housing Rights Service welcomes the appointment of Mervyn Storey as the new minister for the Department of Social Development.

The Conservative Party Conference has just finished with a headline housing pledge that, if re-elected, they will provide further help to get first-time buyers onto the property market in England.

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Outside NI, Policy

From 27th October, a person will have to wait 7 days from a period of sickness or unemployment before he or she can make a claim for Jobseekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.

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Benefits, Money Matters, Affordability