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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Private renters' ongoing concerns about paying rent and eviction shared with Minister

Renters' Voice, a group of private renters in Northern Ireland, have shared their ongoing concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on renters like themselves with Deirdre Hargey, the Minister for Communities. 

The group surveyed people who rent privately in Northern Ireland on the impact of measures that have already been introduced to help private renters during the crisis and on whether renters felt it was appropriate to ease restrictions imposed by the lockdown 

People who responded said they are still very concerned about finances, paying rent, potential evictions and safety from the virus in their homes. They also expressed new concerns about what will happen following the initial crisis and whether further financial and legislative support will be provided to meet private renters’ continued needs.

Measures and guidance to help private renters

Just over half the private tenants who responded to the survey said they had heard about the Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020, which requires private landlords in Northern Ireland to give tenants 12 weeks’ notice to quit and which is designed to prevent evictions of private tenants during the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly half said that this change to the law was something that they thought could help with their situation. Only 2 in 5 said that they were aware of the Department for Communities’ Guidance for Private Landlords and Tenants provided in April 2020. No respondents said that they had found this guidance ‘very useful’ and only 3 in 10 said that they had found it ‘useful to some extent’.

Easing of Lockdown Measures

Although restrictions on movement in Northern Ireland are still very tight, changes to legislation in England have allowed for the reopening of the English property market. While 7 in 10 private renters who responded thought that lockdown measures in Northern Ireland should be eased to allow for non-emergency repairs to rented homes, just over half said they didn’t think viewings of rented properties and house moves should be allowed yet.  

Nearly everyone who responded thought that there would still need to be some rules and exceptions in place when these activities are allowed again.

Renters’ Views shared with Communities Minister

Renters’ Voice have shared their report about this survey with the Department for Communities and the Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, and asked that serious consideration is given to its findings.Tenants stressed their concerns, including that private tenants appear to have experienced real difficulties in finding and understanding the official information provided during the crisis and that there is an urgency to let people know what happens next to address private renters’ concerns and uncertainties.

What is Renters' Voice?

Renters' Voice is a new project for people who rent privately in Northern Ireland to build a strong voice and influence landlords, politicians and government. They are supported by Housing Rights and funded by Nationwide Foundation. To find out more about the Renters’ Voice project, please contact Claire Maddison.  Renters’ Voice had previously conducted a survey of private renters in Northern Ireland about their issues and concerns due to Covid-19 (or Coronavirus) and what measures private tenants feel would be of help as a result. 

Tagged In

Coronavirus, Private Tenancies

This article was written on 2 June 2020. 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.