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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

PRS Conference 2015 - Fit for the Future Report

We had over 90 delegates attend our Private Rented Conference on Tuesday 17th November. The timely conference aimed to open up debate on how to ensure the Northern Ireland private rented sector is fit for purpose.

Launch of review from Minister for Social Development, Mervyn Storey MLA

Minister for Social Development, Mervyn Storey MLA, opened the conference, days after announcing a landmark review of the private rented sector.  He encouraged those in the room to respond to the review.

Professor Peter Kemp,  Professor of Public Policy in the Blavatnik School of Government , gave a policy overview of the private rental market in the UK and why changes are needed. He concluded that

  1. Under-supply of new homes is a critical underlying problem
  2. Private renting growth is likely to continue
  3. The PRS has not adjusted to its new role as long-term housing for low-income tenants
  4. 2015 Budget changes will make things worse
  5. There has been significant policy progress in Scotland, but not in England

Promoting Professionalism in the Private Rented Sector

In the first session of the morning, we heard from the Private Tenant’s forum, who highlighted the importance of involving tenants in any decision making.

Senator Aideen Hayden, highlighted the regulatory response from the Republic of Ireland in answer to their own private rented sector crisis.  Ben Beadle, from TDSNI (the event sponsors) went through the role and impact of their tenancy deposit scheme in Northern Ireland. Ben highlighted the need for stronger enforcement within the sector.  Anthoney Quinn from London Borough of Newham discussed how landlord licensing and enforcement schemes in Newham helped to improve conditions at the lowest end of the rental market and talked about some of the problems he has with the schemes which currently operate in England.

Increasing Supply in the Private Rented Sector

Nicola Farrell from Homes for Good in Scotland told the crowd about their private enterprise for social good. Homes for Good  bring tired properties back to life and create quality homes for people who need them. They run a matching service for house shares.

Mark Bonner from Places for People talked about the organisations history of investing in the PRS and managing private accommodation. It is one of the largest property management companies in the UK, with over 140,000 homes under its management. Originally founded as a housing association in 1965, the company now also manages a large portfolio of privately rented housing.

Improving standards in the Private Rented Sector

Jon Elliot was first up in this section, highlighting that there are no requirements for privately rented properties in NI to have regular electrical safety checks. Electrical Safety First is campaigning for this to change, arguing for mandatory checks for rented properties throughout NI.

Picking up on the theme of safety and fitness, consultant John Bryson discussed the merits of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System as a way of assessing the quality of rented housing in NI.

Our final speaker of the day was Barbara Gray from the Ulster University who discussed the affordable warmth scheme - which aims to improve energy efficiency in properties where people are living in fuel poverty

The day ended with a choice of discussion groups that were led by Claire O’Neill (Belfast City Council), Ben Beadle (TDSNI), Jennie Donald (NIFHA) and Jenny Muir (Queens University)

Download presentations and discussion group feedback

Peter Kemp - Private Renting: housing policy at the crossroads

Session 1 - Promoting Professionalism in the private rented sector

Senator Aideen Hayden - Regulation and rights - the correct balance

Ben Beadle - Role and impact of the tenant deposit scheme in NI

Anthoney Quinn - Property licencing and smart enforcement in Newham

Session 2 - Improving Supply in the private rented sector

Nicola Farrell - Private housing for social good

Mark Bonner - Investing in the private rented sector

Session 3 - Improving standards in the private rented sector

Jon Elliott - Electrical safety in the private rented sector

John Bryson - Poor housing means poor health

Barbara Gray - Fuel poverty in NI's private rented sector

Workshop Feedback

Be the Adjudicator

Tenant Engagement

Moving into the Private Rented Sector

The Challenged and Opportunities of Councils

Tagged In

Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies

This article was written on 24 November 2015. 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.