Private Tenants’ Forum looks forward to a better private rented sector
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. This trend looks set to continue.
The Forum has just submitted its response to the Department for Social Development’s consultation on the role and regulation of the private rented sector. This is the first time in 10 years that the PRS in NI has been reviewed. The Forum were pleased that many of the suggestions identified in their Agenda for Action for improvements in the sector were included in the review document for discussion.
Forum’s call to action
In its response, the Forum has called for:
- The government to exercise caution in relying on the PRS to bridge the gap in housing supply. The Forum would like to see the government devise a housing policy with real alternatives to the PRS and to look at new ways of bringing a more stable and long term stream of PRS lettings into the sector.
- The government to incentivise the PRS by encouraging new PRS providers into the NI market.
- More support of both tenants and landlords to raise standards in the sector. Particular reference was made to the provision of information packs to tenants, access to free independent advice, an independent complaints resolution service and widening the NI Private Rented Sector Access Scheme.
- Changes to the Landlord Registration Scheme and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme to offer more protection and information to tenants and the banning of letting fees.
- Licensing of landlords and agents and for greater professionalism in the sector.
- Greater security of tenure for those tenants and landlords who wish to enter into such an agreement.
- Reform of the minimum notice to quit period and eviction processes.
- An overhaul of the current minimum fitness standards with the implementation of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
Jan Branch, a member of the Forum, commented that “The Forum now looks forward to the next stages of the Review, and to being involved in discussions on improvements and changes to the continually expanding private rented sector, to make it better fit for purpose and a more attractive housing option of choice.”
Find out more about the rights and regulations in the private rented sector
Housing Rights is running a 2 day course on the 18 & 19 February on the private rented sector. Renting Privatley in NI: The Definitive Guide, will cover the rights and responsibilites of tenants and landlords.