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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Etain Ní Fhearghail

In January 2017 the temporary absence rules for Housing Benefit changed. Since then, there has been a four-week limit placed on absences outside Northern Ireland. If a person is absent from Northern Ireland for more than four weeks, that person is no longer entitled to receive Housing Benefit, unless the absence is for specific reasons.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Affordability

The Government has responded to a House of Lords Committee report on financial exclusion. In its response, it has rejected Committee recommendations to remove the requirement to remove waiting days from Universal Credit for all claimants and to allow direct payment of housing costs to landlords in England and Wales.

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Benefits, Outside NI, Welfare Reform

The Bank of England today announced the first rise in interest rates since 2007. In the wake of the Brexit referendum last June, the Bank of England reduced the cost of borrowing to 0.25%, but today's announcement brings the interest rate back up to 0.5%. The people who will be most adversely affected by this increase are those households with variable rate mortgages.

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Repossession

Universal Credit claimants will typically wait six weeks before receiving their first payment. While those who have applied immediately after leaving employment may be able to sustain themselves during this six-week period with their final payment of wages.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

The Department for Communities has released its formal proposals to improve the process used to allocate social housing. This review of the allocations system was launched in 2013, at which stage a research paper set out recommendations.

The proposals hope to achieve five key outcomes

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Social Tenancies, Policy
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Tenancy legislation provides people with vital protection against homelessness, by legislating against harassment and unlawful eviction and ensuring that certain rights are enshrined in law. Some agents have tried to circumvent these protections by issuing tenants with “licence agreements”, which purport to diminish the tenant’s legal status.

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Private Tenancies, Legal

Regulations allowing for the introduction of the “social sector size criteria” or the “bedroom tax” in Northern Ireland took effect on the 20 February.  As we’ve previously reported, the impact of this change in Northern Ireland is largely mitigated, with the only threat of an actual financial detriment as a result of the change being to some social tenants who trans

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Benefits, Social Tenancies, Private Tenancies, Practical tips, Welfare Reform, Affordability

Officials from the Department for Communities attended our Housing Advice Practitioner’s Forum, to elicit feedback from attendees on their proposals for change to the private rented sector in Northern Ireland.

During the meeting, Department officials outlined the main proposals, which relate to the following key areas:

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Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies, Policy, Landlord
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The dedicated advisers on our housing helpline answer calls from the public from 09:30 until 14:30 Monday to Friday.  Recently, they’ve had quite a few calls from tenants who’ve been asked by a landlord to vacate their homes in a matter of days.  We’ve also spoken with a few people who have been evicted illegally and thought now might be a good opportunity to review the procedures that landlords must follow in order to regain possession of a property from a private tenant.

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Private Tenancies, Adviser

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