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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 the DFP Consulation Paper on the Review of Rates Liability for the Landlord Sector

Although Housing Rights Service supports the Government’s aim to simplify the rules governing rate liability in the private rented sector, we nevertheless do not believe the proposals as presented in this consultation paper will provide any significant clarification. In our view, the proposals only go a small way to simplify these complex arrangements i.e. they remove only one element regarding the criterion relating to the frequency of rent payments.

Even if the proposals are adopted, rates collection will remain difficult to administer and, in our view, confusion will still exist in regard to liability in rented accommodation. Given the complex nature of rating legislation, we believe a better outcome could be achieved by DFP having more discussions with key stakeholders to sort out the confusion that exists on who is liable for paying rates.

We hope in the future, where landlords default on their arrangements to pay rates as set out in tenancy agreements, tenants will no longer be prosecuted for rates liability where they can prove the payment of rates. We welcome the commitment to review this issue and to consider a long term solution to the problem of rates collection in the landlord sector.

Tagged In

Affordability, Landlord, Policy

The Hidden Costs of Private Renting in Northern Ireland - An Investigation into the Practice of Letting Charges

The hidden costs of renting private accommodation in Northern Ireland have been revealed in an undercover survey carried out by Housing Rights Service.  A ‘mystery shopping’ survey of 40 lettings agents across Northern Ireland found that upfront fees of as much as £100 were demanded by some agents to cover routine services such as credit checks and general administration costs. This was on top of a deposit (normally one month’s rent) and a month’s rent in advance.

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Affordability, Policy, Practical tips, Private Tenants Forum

Review of Rates Liability for the Landlord Sector

The consultation paper seeks views on proposed changes to clarify the rules covering landlord liability for rates. It is argued the current rules are complicated to administer and difficult for landlords (owners) and tenants (occupiers) to fully understand who is legally liable for rates on rented property.

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Private Tenancies, Policy, Landlord, NI Assembly

Towards Financial Inclusion, the expansion of credit union financial services for low-income households

We have become increasingly aware of the large extent of high-cost, sub-prime lending in Northern Ireland and of the disproportionate effects such lending can have on low-income households. With this in mind, research was commissioned into the way in which NI Credit Unions currently serve low-income households and into their potential to expand their outreach within the low-income market in the future.

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Policy

Amendments to Clause 69 of the Welfare Reform Bill (Bedroom Tax)

The Bill is being considered by the NI Assembly over the coming months. Housing Rights Service is particularly concerned about the negative implications of introducing under occupancy penalties commonly referred to as the bedroom tax. We are against the implementation of this provision within Clause 69 and recommend that the Assembly does not introduce it. If this is unavoidable, we have recommended some amendments in an attempt to lessen its impact.

Tagged In

NI Assembly, Policy, Welfare Reform

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