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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Policy & Research

Our policy work is based on the experiences of people who contact us for advice. We work on their behalf to secure positive changes to housing legislation, policy and practice in Northern Ireland. You can read more about what we are striving to achieve in the coming year by downloading our policy priorities.

Below, you will find copies of policy briefings, consultation responses and research papers that Housing Rights has produced recently.

Response to Access to Justice Review

Access to justice is widely accepted as a cornerstone of democracy and a vital ingredient in protecting weak and vulnerable citizens. Housing Rights Service therefore welcomes the opportunity of responding to this consultation paper. As a voluntary sector organisation which provides legal aid services and contributed to the consultation on the Access to Justice Review, we have a number of particular concerns which are detailed in this response. Given the nature of our work, our comments are largely confined to the area of civil legal services.

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Policy

Response to the public consultation on the introduction of a Statutory Registration Scheme for all Providers of Publicly Funded Legal Services in Northern Ireland

As a voluntary sector organisation which provides legal aid services and participated in the pilot review of the Registration Scheme, we have a number of particular concerns which are detailed in this response. Be that as it may, we nevertheless support the introduction of the proposed scheme and the intention to be inclusive and comprehensive. The need to avoid conflicts of interest by separating the roles of regulation and representation held by professional bodies and introducing an independent oversight of publicly funded legal aid services has been recognised in successive reviews and we note that the proposals are not intended to supersede the roles of the professional bodies, such as the Law Society and Bar Council, which regulate the work of the legal profession.

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Policy

Response to DSD Consultation on Developer Contributions for Affordable Housing

Housing Rights Service welcomes this long awaited consultation on proposals to introduce a developer contributions scheme for social and affordable housing in Northern Ireland. We believe the introduction of planning obligations to facilitate developer contributions presents an important opportunity to lever in additional investment for the provision of new social and affordable housing, particularly in this time of constrained public financing and sustained housing need. We therefore support the Department’s aim to “promote decent, affordable and sustainable housing, particularly in terms of tenure, price and household composition” and the recognition that “the provision of more affordable housing is a cornerstone of sustainable communities”.

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Policy

Response to Review of Strategy Preventing Accidents in the Home

Housing Rights believes the current housing fitness standard is unable to address the most common health and safety defects found in rented accommodation. We have recently submitted evidence to the current DHSSPS review of its home accident prevention strategy. 

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Fitness, Private Tenancies

Response to DSD Anti Social Behaviour Bill

Housing Rights Service is concerned about the new form of tenancy i.e. the Short Secure Tenancy (SST) which the DSD is proposing. We interpret the SST as a downgraded temporary tenancy for 6 months. After this time the SST either becomes secure again or possession is sought to bring the tenancy to an end using a largely administrative process. The court “would be required” to grant possession in such cases. In our view a system which allows for the removal of secure tenants’ rights by a largely administrative process runs contrary to the principle of natural justice and would interfere with human rights. Read our response.

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Social Tenancies, Private Tenants Forum, Policy

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