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When everyone has a home

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Landlord licensing is set to be introduced for HMOs in Northern Ireland following the Assembly’s passing of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Bill. The Bill is currently awaiting Royal assent.

Although not solely focused on private rented properties, the HMO Bill is seen as a key component in improving regulation and standards within the sector. It is hoped the Bill will provide better protection for tenants living in houses of multiple occupation.

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Fitness, Regulation, Private Tenancies, Case law, Landlord, Legal

Carmel Ferguson, solicitor with Housing Rights, recently assisted an elderly couple who had been missold a mortgage.  Housing Rights first assisted the couple at court as part of our Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme.  The adviser at court represented Patrick and Mary at court before asking Carmel and our legal team to look into the case in further detail.

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A recent Northern Ireland Court of Appeal judgment, Argue V Northern Ireland Housing Executive Neutral [2016] NICA 18 (5 April 2016)  considers the provisions of the Defective Premises (Landlord's Liability) Act (Northern Ireland) 2001.

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Social Tenancies, Private Tenancies, Case law, Landlord, Legal

The UK Supreme Court recently considered issues around eligibility of certain foreign nationals for certain benefits and housing assistance.

In Samin v Westminster City Council [2016] UKSC 1 the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal which sought to incorporate a proportionality requirement into the statutory test for eligibility, and to argue that the test itself was discriminatory under EU law.

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Minority Groups, Homelessness, Case law, Legal

Response to the Consumer Council’s consultation on its Draft Forward Work Programme 2016-17 and Corporate Plan 2016-2021

Housing Rights has highlighted the charging of fees by letting agents as a key issue for consumers, in our response to the Consumer Council’s consultation on its Draft Forward Work Programme 2016-17 and Corporate Plan 2016-2021.

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Regulation, Private Tenancies, Affordability, Legal

The Northern Ireland High Court of Justice decision in The Woolwich v Boyd [2015] NICh 16 , issued by Mr Justice Deeny in the High Court Chancery Division, deals with the issue of the extent of the discretion of the court in an application for a stay on an order for possession of a home; and how this discretion is exercised.

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Repossession, Case law, Legal

Support for Mortgage Interest (‘SMI’) is a payment available to people receiving Income Support; income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance; income-based Employment & Support Allowance; and Pension Credit. These payments are vital in allowing low-income households to maintain their mortgage repayments and sustain their homes. 

The next few years will see several changes to the SMI scheme, specifically:

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Benefits, Repossession, Homelessness, Legal

Response to Report of Access to Justice

The Access to Justice report has a positive message of retaining funding for housing cases and its particular reference to protecting people’s homes. Nonetheless, Housing Rights does have a general concern that a significant group of people have been overlooked in the report. There is much emphasis in the report about preventing the loss of a person’s home; and rightly so, as prevention of homelessness is a core area of work for Housing Rights. But, as discussed in its original consultation response, Housing Rights believes that the definition of homelessness should be considered in as wide a context as possible.

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The Assembly’s Social Development Committee has published its Report on the Housing (Amendment) Bill. In this, the Committee have accepted two recommendations made by Housing Rights in written and oral evidence.

The Housing (Amendment) Bill was introduced to the Assembly in 2015; amongst other clauses, the Bill aimed to allow information-sharing to and between the NI Housing Executive and registered housing associations in relation to antisocial behaviour.

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Policy, NI Assembly, Legal


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