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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Proposals for increased rights for renters welcomed

Local advice charity, Housing Rights, has welcomed the launch of Department for Communities (DFC) proposals around the Private Rented Sector. The charity has been calling for better regulation of the sector for many years.

One in five local households now rent their home.  Last year the charity helped people deal with over 2,500 issues related to renting privately.

Kate McCauley, Policy Manager with Housing Rights commented: 

“We welcome any measures that improve the situation for many people who rent privately. This sector is now the largest area of our advice work so we are in no doubt that change is required. We worked closely with the DFC and other stakeholders, including the Private Tenants Forum on the current proposals.  Moving forward, it’s important that the voice and experience of people who rent privately continues to shape government plans.”

The Private Rented Sector has grown rapidly over the last ten years with more families and older people now making their home in the sector. 
Renters contacting Housing Rights for advice are dealing with problems ranging from lack of security and poor conditions, to difficulty with letting fees and disputes with their landlords.

Ms McCauley continued:

“It is encouraging that the Department proposes to introduce legislation regarding electrical and fire safety, to strengthen tenancy deposit protection and to regulate rent levels. We are also particularly pleased at proposals for a regulatory framework for letting agents and that the Department is set to follow the example set by other UK jurisdictions and ban letting fees. Our advisors regularly see how disputes between tenants and landlords which often lead to tenancies ending. Housing Rights is pleased that the Department are keen to examine how disputes could be resolved in a more effective way. This would be a positive development for landlords and tenants and reduce pressure on the courts system.”

The consultation period on proposals runs to April 3.

ENDS

Notes to editors:
For further information contact Claire at Housing Rights on 90 267925

Spokespersons and client will be available for comment

1. In 2015/2016 Housing Rights  dealt with over 43,000 issues related to housing.  Over 40% of these came from people renting privately.
2. The PRS provides homes for 21% of all occupied housing stock in Northern Ireland.  This has increased steadily from 10% in 2003-2004.
3. 54% of PRS tenants are under 40 years of age, 33% are single and 27% earn less than £15K a year