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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

February 2016

A round up of some of the housing and home related questions asked in the Assembly in February.

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NI Assembly

Plans to increase the level of tenant participation were recently 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. 

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Social Tenancies

Sandra is a tenant of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive who was represented at court by Emma from our Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme, a project that provides court representation to people who have been taken to court because of rent or mortgage arrears.

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Repossession, Social Tenancies, Adviser

The Housing Executive’s latest Community Cohesion Strategy was launched at the new Girdwood Community Hub on Friday 19 February 2016.

The strategy covers the period from 2015-2020 and aims to deliver on NIHE’s vision for housing; “…in which housing plays its part in creating a peaceful, inclusive, prosperous and fair society”.

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Minority Groups, Social Tenancies

The Housing Executive an Women’s Aid have developed a joint working protocol with the aim of promoting and enhancing the safety of those who have experienced domestic and/or sexual violence and abused through increased awareness, collaborative working and effective and efficient referral.

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Homelessness

On the 24th March, NIFHA will hold their first Social Housing Practitioner Confernce at the Park Avenue Hotel

The Social Housing Practitioners Conference will explore many practical and prominent topics including welfare reform, hoarding, anti-social behaviour and maintenance.

Heating and lighting our homes is an everyday necessity. However, Consumer Council research shows that for one third of consumers it is the area of household expenditure they worry about most.

Consumers can cut down on their energy bills by shopping around for the best deal possible and switching suppliers to make savings. The Consumer Council has produced a range of resources to help consumers save on their home heating oil, natural gas and electricity bills.

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Practical tips, Affordability
Photo of Beyond the Gate staff with Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research team

When someone is granted a new social tenancy, they'll generally need to furnish the property from scratch.  For many, this may just mean moving existing furnishings from another property or a storage centre into their new home.  But, some new tenants will have nothing to put in their new home and this can make settling in incredibly challenging.  

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Research, Social Tenancies

The Assembly’s Social Development Committee has published its Report on the Houses in Multiple Occupation Bill. The committee report has accepted recommendations made by Housing Rights in written and oral evidence.

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Private Tenancies, Policy, NI Assembly

A report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers suggests that Northern Ireland could have amongst the lowest level of homeownership in the UK by 2025.   PwC predicts that renting privately is likely to boom in the coming decade, particularly amongst 20 to 39 year olds. 

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Private Tenancies, Affordability

We have recently recruited two new members to our Policy and Practice team. Kate Ward is our new Policy & Practice Manager, whilst Stephen Orme is our new Policy & Public Affairs Officer. Stephen and Kate join existing team members Bronagh McCulla, Training Officer and Sharon Geary, Policy and Practitioner Support Officer. 

Housing Rights has responded to the Department for Social Development's Discussion Paper on the Review of the Private Rented Sector.

Informed by the key issues faced by those living in the private rented sector contacting Housing Rights for advice and support, the organisation has encouraged the Department to introduce a number of key changes in the sector.

A Housing Rights team are abseiling down the Europa Hotel in Belfast to raise fund for our service.

Eoin Kearney, Ursula Toner, Edel McKee, Tracey McKeating, Sarah Corrigan, Geraldine Fitzsimons, Magdalena Bisewska and Geoff Allen are prepared to abseil 120ft on the 20th March, and help raise funds for Housing Rights.

The View, an independent social affairs magazine, has released their latest issue, focusing solely on housing.

Edited by Professor Paddy Gray, University of Ulster, and supported by the Housing Executive, the publication looks at the issues surrounding housing in Northern Ireland.

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Fitness, Private Tenancies, Policy

The latest Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin released by the Department for Social Development, covering the quarter July-September 2015, has shown increases in both the number of households presenting to the Housing Executive as homeless, and the number of households granted ‘Full Duty Applicant’ status by the Housing Executive.

With Storm Imogen currently battering parts of the UK and Storms Jake and Katie presumably not far behind, it’s important for advisers to familiarise themselves with the newest government grant aimed at helping homeowners who have been adversely affected by flooding.

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Fitness, Affordability, Landlord

The Housing Executive will be contacting over 1300 tenants to let them know about the potential transfer of their homes to housing associations.

This stock transfer is focused on four estates