Since it was established in 2012, the Private Tenants’ Forum has worked to raise awareness of the issues which prevail in the private rented sector (PRS) and to promote reform of the sector. The Forum was set up against the backdrop of a changing sector in Northern Ireland. From 1991 – 2011 there was a huge increase of 505% in the number of people living in the private rented sector. Around 1 in 5 people now live in the sector.
Plans to increase the level of tenant participation have just been published by the Department for Social Development. ‘A Tenant Participation Strategy for NI: 2015 to 2020’ sets out the actions that social landlords should take to give tenants the opportunity to have a say in the decisions that affect them.
Recently, a social worker contacted Housing Rights to ask if we could help his client John. John’s home had been left in a poor state of repair after adaptations were carried out and his housing association had told him that he’d have to cover the cost of redecorating himself.
The Assembly’s Social Development Committee has published its Report on the Housing (Amendment) Bill. In this, the Committee have accepted two recommendations made by Housing Rights in written and oral evidence.
The Housing (Amendment) Bill was introduced to the Assembly in 2015; amongst other clauses, the Bill aimed to allow information-sharing to and between the NI Housing Executive and registered housing associations in relation to antisocial behaviour.
From February 2016 landlords in England face financial penalties and prosecution if they rent to someone who does not have a legal right to be in the UK. The roll out of the "right to rent checks", introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, has not yet reached Northern Ireland and local landlords can continue to do business as usual.
The last few months have seen parts of Northern Ireland deluged with rain. An emergency meeting of Assembly ministers was called yesterday to work out an adequate response to assist those affected by floodwaters. A total flooding fund of £1.3 million has been made available from Westminister to deal with flooding, but departments have not yet decided how this will be allocated.
January is traditionally a busy time of year for our debt services and this year looks to be no different. We're keen to encourage any one who is having difficulties paying their mortgage to speak to our mortgage debt advisers and to start taking action to save their homes.