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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Legal

Over the last number of years, as a result of the economic downturn, there has been an increase in the number of possession proceedings against homeowners and social tenants who have fallen behind in paying their mortgage or rent.

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Repossession, Social Tenancies, Legal

From 1 January 2014 new restrictions will be placed on migrants’ entitlement to benefits.

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Benefits, Minority Groups, Legal

From 1 January 2014 the UK’s transitional controls on citizens of Bulgaria and Romania (A2 countries) will come to an end. These controls have been in place since Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007. The lifting of restrictions means that citizens from those countries will be able to access all of the labour market and will no longer be subject to a Worker Authorisation Scheme (the Scheme).

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Benefits, Minority Groups, Social Tenancies, Homelessness, Legal

Housing Rights Service solicitor, Carmel Ferguson, provides a round-up of some recent cases heard in the Chancery court in Belfast. They look specifically at the matter of repossession when a property is in negative equity and also the legal procedures to be followed when a lender takes action for possession.

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Legal

A recent Northern Ireland High Court decision provided important judicial interpretation on the Housing Selection Scheme rules and the allocation of housing to transfer applicants. The decision has already affected a number of our clients and impacted on how social landlords manage allocations.  Solicitor Chris McGrath outlines the case.

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Social Tenancies, Practical tips, Case law, Legal

Response to Rent Arrears Protocol

Housing Rights Service is fully supportive of the aims of this pre action protocol. It is a very positive step which we hope will encourage more pre action contact; promote the benefits of getting good independent advice; and, above all, help to avoid costly and unnecessary legal action. In our experience, tenants whose cases have ended up in court are generally unaware of the legal consequences of a court order. We are therefore wholly supportive of the Lord Chief Justice’s decision to issue a Practice Direction in cases of social housing rent arrears. As the protocol states “Eviction should always be viewed as a last resort and should only be used when all other avenues have been exhausted.”

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Social Tenancies, Legal

The Office for Fair Trading (OFT) has just launched a consultation on draft guidance which aims to help letting agents and landlords comply with existing consumer legislation.

The UK wide consultation exercise seeks to clarify how the law applies to the lettings market. It also sets out the OFT's views about how the legislation might apply at each step of the lettings process. Dealings relating to business tenants are not covered. 

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Private Tenancies, Legal

Over the last few of weeks, a number of challenges to the ‘bedroom tax’ have been heard in Great Britain. The bedroom tax is a new measure introduced under the Government’s programme of welfare reform whereby the amount of Housing Benefit which a social tenant receives will be reduced if they are regarded as under-occupying their home. The bedroom tax has not yet been introduced in Northern Ireland.

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Social Tenancies, Welfare Reform, Legal

Nicola McCrudden is the Policy & Communications Manager at Housing Rights Service. Below she describes her recent experiences of possession hearings at Laganside county court.

Sitting in Laganside county court, Belfast, on a Thursday morning listening to a stream of possession hearings made me confident of the need for a pre-action protocol for non payment of rent in social housing. 

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Repossession, Social Tenancies, Landlord, Legal

A recent case before the Upper Tribunal in England looked at the effective date for the backdating of Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). SMI is a government scheme which provides assistance to homeowners facing problems meeting some of their housing costs.

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Case law, Affordability, Legal

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