Total: £0.00

picture of telephone  click icon for access to housing law in practice reference manual for membersMailing ListTwitterFacebook  YouTube

When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Human Rights Commission highlights housing issues in submission to UN

The NI Human Rights Commission has submitted a report to a Geneva based panel of international experts highlighting the Commission’s concerns in relation to housing in Northern Ireland

The Commission’s report comes ahead of next month’s examination by the United Nation’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland’s performance under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Housing Rights met with the Commission during the preparation of their report and is pleased that many of the issues raised in our policy work have been highlighted in the Commission’s report. These include:

Local Housing Allowance and the private rented sector

The Commission highlighted affordability concerns for people living in the private rented sector. They called on UNCESCR to recommend that the NI Executive issue updated guidance on Discretionary Housing Payments as a priority, to ensure payments are targeted at those most in need in Northern Ireland.

Security of Tenure in the private rented sector

The report highlights the Agenda for Action published by the Private Tenants' Forum which raises  concerns relating to security of tenure in private rented accommodation. The Commission recommends UNCESCR have the Department for Communities publish firm proposals to ensure the availability of greater security of tenure in the private rented sector, given the sector’s increasing use as a long-term housing tenure.

Housing Fitness Standard

The Department for Communities is currently reviewing the Housing Fitness Standard. The Commission highlight the potential of the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS), a comprehensive and risk-based system currently used in England & Wales and the USA. (Housing Rights has previously published a Policy Briefing on the potential of the HHSRS in Northern Ireland.)

Homelessness and complex needs

The Commission recommends UNCESCR have the Government ensure that there is an increased emphasis on joint delivery of services, to address homelessness amongst persons with complex needs which include physical health, mental health and substance abuse issues.

Supply and demand for housing

The Commission note the gap between supply and demand for housing, highlighting the 2016 Report of the Housing Supply Forum, which found that there were not enough homes being constructed to meet housing demand in Northern Ireland. The Commission recommend that UNCESCR ask the Executive for an update on the implementation of the Forum’s recommendations, and push for concerted action to increase housing supply in Northern Ireland.

Mortgage repossessions

The Commission note several important developments in this area, including the effect of the 2014 Bank of Scotland case on mortgage repossessions, recent and pending changes to Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), and the potential of a Mortgage Rescue Scheme in Northern Ireland. The Commission recommends UNCESCR seek an update on

Equality impact assessments and data

The Commission notes the Equality Commission’s recent statement on key inequalities in housing. They advise that UNCESCR consider recommending that the NI Executive report on its compliance with Equality Scheme commitments relating to housing policies; and collect robust equality data to monitor and address inequalities in housing in Northern Ireland.

The final UNCESCR report

Following the Committee’s examination in June, a formal report (known as the ‘Concluding Observations’) will be issued by the Committee which will contain recommendations for the NI Executive.

Recommendations relating to housing can be found on pages 49-62 of the Human Rights Commission's submission.

Tagged In



Stephen Orme

This article was written on 12 May 2016. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.