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Policy Briefing

Housing Rights policy briefing on review of intimidation points

In November 2020, then Minister for Communities Carál Ní Chuilín committed to reviewing intimidation points: an award of points under the current allocation scheme which provides high priority for rehousing.

Housing Rights welcomes this commitment and shares the Minister’s reservations regarding the proposal, contained in the original 2016 review of the allocation scheme, to remove intimidation points from the scheme without alternative necessary safeguards. 

This briefing paper sets out our position that a blanket removal of these points is too simple a solution for such a complex issue, and would not provide adequate protection to those in crisis whose lives are under threat.

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Social Tenancies, Homelessness

Letting fees in Northern Ireland: Briefing Paper

Letting fees are payments charged by estate agents. They include application fees and administration fees for carrying out credit and employment checks. Despite a significant court ruling in 2017, agents in Northern Ireland continue to charge fees to tenants. Housing Rights believes that the continued practice of charging unlawful letting fees illustrates that case law and Ministerial direction have not been sufficient to curb this practice. It is imperative, in our view, that legislation is brought forward to remove any ambiguity and to ensure that this unlawful practice is brought to an end. This briefing paper sets out the current legislative position in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in regards to letting fees, and highlights the omissions and ambiguities in the current legislation prohibiting such fees in Northern Ireland. 

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Private Tenancies

Using the private rented sector to discharge the statutory duty to homeless households

In their 2017 Fundamental Review of Social Housing Allocations, the Department for Communities proposed that the Northern Ireland Housing Executive could meet its statutory duty to provide accommodation to homeless households by offering said households a tenancy in the private rented sector, subject to certain conditions. Given the lack of available social housing, Housing Rights appreciates the need for urgent action to address the growing waiting list for social housing and, in particular, the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness and waiting for unacceptably long periods for a new home. Housing Rights believes however that the sub sector of the private rented sector which would typically be accessible to homeless households provides neither an appropriate nor reasonable response to this problem. This policy briefing explains our position. 

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Policy, Homelessness

Preventing and alleviating homelessness in the face of COVID-19

Recommendations to prevent and alleviate homelessness caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic

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Coronavirus, Homelessness

How the Assembly can deal with housing problems created by Covid-19

This briefing paper details the ways in which we foresee Covid-19 and associated economic fallout impacting on homelessness and housing in Northern Ireland. It includes measures which we believe Government can take to cushion some of the worst impacts and help vulnerable people at this unique and troubling time. 

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Benefits, Social Tenancies, Private Tenancies, Welfare Reform, Homelessness

Housing Rights calls for a housing led review of DHPs

 A policy briefing: ‘Recommendations for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) in Northern Ireland pre and post 2020, following a meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Communities to discuss the operation of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) as part of a delegation led by Nichola Mallon, MLA.

 

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Welfare Reform, Policy

The impact of Welfare Reform on housing

A briefing document for the All Party Group created and presented by Housing Rights in June 2018. 

The document highlights three key areas of concern and included a focus on the situation post 2020 when the current scheme of mitigation payments are due to expire.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Policy, Affordability

Response to Report of the September 2017 Review of Civil Justice

Due to our developing experience and expertise in this area, Housing Rights strongly feels that there is a role for alternative forms of dispute resolution in tackling housing disputes. Housing Rights therefore welcomes the opportunity to engage in the review of civil justice. In particular, we are eager to engage with the Review’s recommendations to develop a pilot online dispute resolution system, and the creation of a Civil Justice Council as a strategic driver of improvements in civil justice.

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Policy

Response for a breathing space scheme for people in serious debt

Our work includes helping people with mortgage, tenancy and other housing debts, and working to ensure that our clients are empowered to sustain their tenancies. Whilst the consultation on a “breathing space” scheme is initially relevant to England, Housing Rights welcomes the potential for this to be extended to Wales and Northern Ireland, and is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute on this basis. 

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Policy, Affordability

Housing Rights Policy Response FCA's fair treatment of mortgage customers in payment shortfall

Housing Rights broadly welcomes the Financial Conduct Authority’s response to this issue, which aims to provide a framework which lenders can use to ensure ‘fair remediation for customers.’ We welcome the FCA’s characterisation of lenders’ practices as ‘automatic capitalisation’, leading to customers making overpayments, and the recognition that this may have led to unfair customer outcomes. Housing Rights also welcomes the FCA’s statement that they ‘expect firms to put this right, and ensure the practice ceases.’

Housing Rights is pleased to offer several further comments on particular aspects of the proposed guidance framework, with the aim of ensuring that the framework fully provides fair remediation for affected customers.

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Regulation, Repossession, Policy, Affordability

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