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When everyone has a home

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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.

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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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

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.

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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