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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland


The Department for Social Development (DSD) has indicated in the Housing Strategy Action Plan a need to establish a working group to identify ways of lessening the impact of repossession in Northern Ireland.  Following a recent consultation event the Committee for Social Development has made recommendations to the DSD to assist in the formulation of this working group.

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Repossession, Affordability, NI Assembly

The Department of Finance and Personnel has launched a second stage consultation exercise seeking views on a proposed way forward for rates support from April 2014. The changes are needed as a result of the UK government’s decision to remove the council tax element of housing benefit in Britain and the rate rebate element in Northern Ireland.

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Policy, Affordability, NI Assembly

Response to the DFP Consulation Paper on the Review of Rates Liability for the Landlord Sector

Although Housing Rights Service supports the Government’s aim to simplify the rules governing rate liability in the private rented sector, we nevertheless do not believe the proposals as presented in this consultation paper will provide any significant clarification. In our view, the proposals only go a small way to simplify these complex arrangements i.e. they remove only one element regarding the criterion relating to the frequency of rent payments.

Even if the proposals are adopted, rates collection will remain difficult to administer and, in our view, confusion will still exist in regard to liability in rented accommodation. Given the complex nature of rating legislation, we believe a better outcome could be achieved by DFP having more discussions with key stakeholders to sort out the confusion that exists on who is liable for paying rates.

We hope in the future, where landlords default on their arrangements to pay rates as set out in tenancy agreements, tenants will no longer be prosecuted for rates liability where they can prove the payment of rates. We welcome the commitment to review this issue and to consider a long term solution to the problem of rates collection in the landlord sector.

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Affordability, Landlord, Policy

The Department for Social Development will be setting up a working group on repossession and negative equity. It will examine the extent of the problem and consider options for government intervention.

The current level of repossession actions in Northern Ireland is the highest in the UK.  Recent Courts & Tribunal Service statistics show that over 1000 cases were received to the High Court between January and March 2013, representing a 19% increase on the same period last year.

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Repossession, Affordability, NI Assembly

Cases that revolve around capital rules and housing benefit can often be complicated.  There's so much case law that it can be difficult to know where to start.  One of my clients, Janine,  was refused housing benefit because she was named on the deeds of a property which her former partner still lived in. This was a long and complex case and involved a lot of legal research. 

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Affordability, Legal, Adviser

Denise Callaghan has worked as an adviser with Housing Rights Service for several years.  A key member of the Preventing Possession Initiative, Denise was Northern Ireland's first Duty Court Adviser for people at risk of repossession.  Here, Denise talks through her experiences advising worried homeowners.

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Affordability, Repossession

We recently carried out an undercover survey of 40 NI based lettings agencies to find out more about the fees and charges that prospective tenants are forced to hand over before they can find rented accommodation.

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Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies, Affordability

Imagine you’re a private tenant, paying rent each month and confident that you’re doing everything that’s required of you.  One day you open your post to find a final demand from Land & Property Services insisting that you pay £2000+ by the end of the month or face court.  It’s particularly confusing when your tenancy agreement says your rent includes rates and your landlord’s responsible for paying these to LPS.

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Private Tenancies, Practical tips, Affordability, Adviser

Last year Alison came to Housing Rights Service for help.  She was being threatened with bankruptcy over rates arrears of almost £7000.  I took on her case and here's what happened. 

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Practical tips, Affordability, Adviser

The Hidden Costs of Private Renting in Northern Ireland - An Investigation into the Practice of Letting Charges

The hidden costs of renting private accommodation in Northern Ireland have been revealed in an undercover survey carried out by Housing Rights Service.  A ‘mystery shopping’ survey of 40 lettings agents across Northern Ireland found that upfront fees of as much as £100 were demanded by some agents to cover routine services such as credit checks and general administration costs. This was on top of a deposit (normally one month’s rent) and a month’s rent in advance.

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Affordability, Policy, Practical tips, Private Tenants Forum


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