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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Beryl, a tenant who got a proposed increase in rent reduced

A referral came in from a tenant (Beryl) who had been living in a property for 15 years with her partner who had mental health difficulties. No renovation work has been done in the property and Beryl was concerned about a crack in the bathroom sink and some cracked tiles which had never been replaced. She and her partner had always paid their rent on time from their housing benefit. Beryl contacted the letting agent to ask for repairs in the bathroom and the landlord (Jim) came to inspect the property.

A month later, Beryl received an email to say that her rent would be increased by £150 per month starting the following month- there was no mention of the repairs. She and her partner were distressed by this news and contacted the benefit office to check if they were entitled to any more rent to help with the increase. She also contacted the mediation service at Housing Rights.

The first thing the mediation manager did was to talk to the letting agent and discovered that Jim was not registered as a landlord in Northern Ireland. On notifying Jim about this and the need to be registered to use the mediation service, Jim got registered and was able to participate in the mediation process.

After consent to take part in the mediation was received from both Beryl and the letting agent on behalf of Jim, the mediation manager investigated the details of the rent payments and the housing benefit increase which had been awarded to Beryl following her appeal. The difference in the rent being asked and the benefit received was £90 and the mediation manager, after consulting with Beryl, asked for a reduction of £50 per month and for the bathroom repairs to be carried out by Jim. (Beryl was too nervous to talk directly to the landlord).

After several weeks and further prompting by the letting agent, Jim responded to the proposal and agreed to the £50 monthly reduction and to repairing the bathroom sink. This was accepted by Beryl and her partner and a mediation settlement was drafted and sent to both parties. Beryl contacted the mediation manager to express her appreciation for helping them to resolve their issues.