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Landmark review of private rented sector launched

Days ahead of our private rented conference ‘Fit for the Future?’, the Minister for Social Development, Mervyn Storey MLA, has launched a landmark review into the future of the private rented sector.  Housing Rights welcomes the publication of the review document and looks forward to playing a key role, along with the Private Tenants’ Forum, in advancing improvements in the private rented sector.

Areas to be reviewed in the private rented sector

The discussion paper looks at a number of areas for review; many of which have previously been raised by Housing Rights, and the Private Tenants’ Forum in their Agenda for Action. The discussion document addresses and seeks views on a number of issues:

  • Affordability – particularly the shortfall between Local Housing Allowance and the contractual rent.
  • Meeting the growing demand for private rented sector accommodation and how to promote investment to ensure an adequate supply of accommodation.
  • Management standards – particularly landlord registration, tenancy deposit protection, enforcement powers, licensing and accreditation of landlords, regulation of letting agents and charging of fees.
  • Security of tenure – longer tenancies for those tenants and landlords who wish to have them, but balanced with a more effective eviction process.
  • Independent dispute resolution – so that eviction and court action can be avoided.
  • Improving the fitness standard of the private rented sector.

Improvement needed for those now living in the private rented sector

The discussion document represents the first fundamental review of the private rented sector to have been carried out since the Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006 was introduced. Since that legislation was introduced, the sector has seen substantial growth and is increasingly being relied upon to meet the housing needs of many people in Northern Ireland. Latest statistics indicate that the private rented sector now accounts for 21% of all accommodation. The demographics of the private rented sector have also changed, with many more families and low-income households now living in the sector.

Deadline for responses to the review is 5 February 2016.

Housing Advice Practitioners Forum

Housing Rights is pleased to have the Department for Social Development attend its next meeting of the Housing Advice Practitioners’ Forum on 30 November at 2.30pm. This will be an ideal opportunity for our members to discuss the contents of the review with the Department. The Forum is open to any of our member organisations who give housing advice. If you would like to find out more about the Forum please contact Sharon Geary.

Private Rented Sector Conference 2015 – Fit for the Future?

Many of the above issues will be discussed at our private rented sector conference, on Tuesday 17 November. We have a great line up of speakers from across the UK and Ireland, that will offer examples of how and why we need to ensure that Northern Irelands private rented setor is Fit for the Future. 
 

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Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies, Policy