Housing Rights broadly welcomes the Financial Conduct Authority’s response to this issue, which aims to provide a framework which lenders can use to ensure ‘fair remediation for customers.’ We welcome the FCA’s characterisation of lenders’ practices as ‘automatic capitalisation’, leading to customers making overpayments, and the recognition that this may have led to unfair customer outcomes. Housing Rights also welcomes the FCA’s statement that they ‘expect firms to put this right, and ensure the practice ceases.’
Housing Rights is pleased to offer several further comments on particular aspects of the proposed guidance framework, with the aim of ensuring that the framework fully provides fair remediation for affected customers.
This briefing considers the need for increased landlord regulation in the private rented sector, examining the need for licensing, best practice experience elsewhere and concludes with key principles which should inform the development of any such proposals.
Housing Rights’ work, in advising and supporting people at risk of losing their home through mortgage repossession, evidences the critical importance of timely access to Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) payments. These payments are vital in allowing low-income households to maintain their mortgage repayments and sustain their homes.
With the Department for Social Development's Review of the Private Rented Sector ongoing, Housing Rights has prepared a policy briefing on the need for improved regulations in the charging of letting fees in Northern Ireland.
Housing Rights hopes that the operation of theTenancy Deposit Scheme, (the Scheme), which flows from the Private Tenancies (NI)Order 2006 will be addressed in the upcoming review of the Private Rented Sector.
Housing Rights Service has produced a briefing paper on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as a means for determining the fitness of residential properties in Northern Ireland. Although the levels of unfitness in NI have fallen over the last number of years, the standard by which fitness is measured is of a very basic level meaning that many properties whilst passing the fitness standard may still be viewed as unsuitable for living in.
In 2012, the Minister for the Department for Social Development (DSD) announced a Fundamental Review of social housing allocations in Northern Ireland. The review was carried out by the Universities of Ulster and Cambridge who conducted discussions with a number of stakeholders and reviewed best practice in the allocation of social housing in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The final research report contained the recommendations in this briefing (though these do not necessarily represent the views of DSD) The Department is inviting feedback on the recent reports following a review of social housing allocations in Northern Ireland. It will publish a summary of the responses and its final proposals. These proposals will be subject to full public consultation. It is expected that this will take place late in 2014. The deadline for comments on the reports is 4 March 2014.
The Bill is being considered by the NI Assembly over the coming months. Housing Rights Service is particularly concerned about the negative implications of introducing under occupancy penalties commonly referred to as the bedroom tax. We are against the implementation of this provision within Clause 69 and recommend that the Assembly does not introduce it. If this is unavoidable, we have recommended some amendments in an attempt to lessen its impact.