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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.

Response to Rent Arrears Protocol

Housing Rights Service is fully supportive of the aims of this pre action protocol. It is a very positive step which we hope will encourage more pre action contact; promote the benefits of getting good independent advice; and, above all, help to avoid costly and unnecessary legal action. In our experience, tenants whose cases have ended up in court are generally unaware of the legal consequences of a court order. We are therefore wholly supportive of the Lord Chief Justice’s decision to issue a Practice Direction in cases of social housing rent arrears. As the protocol states “Eviction should always be viewed as a last resort and should only be used when all other avenues have been exhausted.”

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Social Tenancies, Legal

Response to Rates Reform

Housing Rights appreciates that DFP is facing the major challenge of meeting the 10% Westminster funding cut for rates support while trying to ensure that assistance remains available for the most vulnerable. We broadly agree with the preferred approach and that existing levels of support for those who are least able to pay should be retained. Housing Rights is concerned about the impact of the funding shortfalls imposed by Westminster. However in this context, the ‘least worst’ option would be to make up savings from removing or reducing other rating support measures and allowances for households. We are aware that the removal of this support could have a negative impact on some low income families. We therefore recommend that the Department considers developing a hardship scheme.

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Policy

A Response to Credit Unions and Industrial Provident Societies Bill

As part of the ongoing reform of credit unions, the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) released for consultation proposals for legislative change. The proposals mirrored some of the major recent legislative developments in Britain. They included, for example, amending the rules relating to the common bond for membership, allowing credit unions to admit corporate members and considering increasing the 1% per month interest rate cap on loans. 

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Policy

Response to the Home Office Consultation on Tackling Illegal Immigration in Privately Rented Accommodation

Housing Rights Service and Law Centre (NI) have recently responded to this Home Office consultation. Under the proposals all private landlords will have to carry out checks on the immigration status of every tenant before renting out a room or house. This response highlights our concerns and criticisms over these measures.Both agencies are opposed to the proposed checking scheme outlined in the consultation.

We fear the proposal will result in migrants being treated in a discriminatory manner and more individuals (whether migrants or not) threatened with homelessness. We believe the Home Office need to reconsider these plans in the light of the many criticisms raised in this response and by other landlord and tenant groups.

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Private Tenancies, Policy, Equality, Landlord

Taking Control: a Financial Capability Strategy for NI

Housing Rights Service welcomes the publication of the draft strategy. Through membership of the Financial Capability Partnership (FCP), Housing Rights Service is represented on DETI’s Financial Capability Forum and has been involved in the strategy’s development. Housing Rights Service is keen to continue to work with DETI and the FCP on the development and implementation of the strategy.

This response looks at the vision and priority areas for action contained within the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment's Financial Capability Strategy.  

Housing Rights Service is particularly pleased that Financial Inclusion has been identified as a priority within the strategy. However, it is very disappointing that none of the practical areas for action relate specifically to promoting Financial Inclusion.
 
We are strongly of the opinion that the NI Executive must take the lead in identifying the issues and working with stakeholders, such as local financial institutions and housing providers, to ensure its citizens are financially included.

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Policy, Affordability, NI Assembly

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