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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

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.

Reponse to consultation on Tenant Participation Strategy in NI

Housing Rights recently responded to the second in a series of consultations issued by the Department for Social Development on the reform of social housing.

As a rights-based organisation, we support the enhancement of tenants’ rights. We welcome the proposals that tenants should have a stronger role to play in how their landlord provides and develops their housing services. However, we believe that participation should be available to more people; not just tenants.

This consultation response makes a number of key points. 

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Regulation, Policy

Housing Rights & Law Centre NI joint response to consultation on rate rebate scheme

Housing Rights and the Law Centre welcome the opportunity to respond to this consultation .  We have found that issues about rates, and help with rates, are becoming more of a priority for our clients; especially in debt cases. Non-payment of rates can lead to serious consequences such as bankruptcy, threat of homelessness and imprisonment. We also encounter many cases where the liability for rates between the landlord and tenant is unclear.  In general, we support the Department proposal to introduce a new rate rebate scheme in line with UC.  However, we do have a number of concerns with regards to backdating, appealing decisions and provision for hardship cases.

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Benefits, Policy

Housing Rights Response to Scope of Legal Aid

Housing Rights believes that access to justice is paramount in any democracy.  The consultation paper sets out the cost of some of the areas which are proposed to be removed from Legal Aid and Advice (Green Form). Those areas which cover housing related issues, which HRS would be concerned with, amount to a small percentage of the overall Green Form expenditure. Despite it being a small proportion of the overall expenditure, removing such funding could have a devastating effect on the lives of people who potentially need this assistance. Therefore, we strongly feel that the funding of housing related cases should be protected.

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Policy, Equality, Legal

Briefing on the Housing Health and Safety Standard

Housing Rights Service has produced a briefing paper on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as a means for determining the fitness of residential properties in Northern Ireland. Although the levels of unfitness in NI have fallen over the last number of years, the standard by which fitness is measured is of a very basic level meaning that many properties whilst passing the fitness standard may still be viewed as unsuitable for living in. 

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Response to A Strategy for the Delivery of Generalist Advice Services in Northern

Housing Rights Service has recently responded to a DSD consultation on  ‘A Strategy for the Delivery of Generalist Advice Services in Northern Ireland 2015 – 2020’.  We feel that any future changes to the work, organisation and administration of the generalist advice sector has the potential to impact on the day-to-day work of specialist agencies such as Housing Rights Service. Over 70% of our clients are already referred to us by another agency. Any change in their resources will also have an effect on the demand for HRS.

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Practical tips, Policy, NI Assembly