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Tenants brief MLAs on issues with renting privately in NI

A group of tenants who  have come together to help improve conditions in private rented sector, met with members of the NI Assembly’s Committee for Social Development in Belfast today.

The Tenants Forum was set up in 2012, supported by Housing Rights Service (HRS). Its aim is to encourage tenant participation to advocate for change, and support improvements in the private rented sector

Members of the forum met with the Committee at HRS’ offices.  Tracey McKeating, Chairperson of the forum said:

“We welcome the opportunity to chat with MLAs firsthand about our experiences of living in rented accommodation.  We hope that they will take our views on board and feed them into the Department for Social Development’s (DSD) review of regulation in the private rented sector.”

With lengthy waiting lists for social housing, more families and individuals are turning to private landlords for accommodation. The sector has grown rapidly in recent years and now makes up for 19% of all households, nearly 130,000 homes in Northern Ireland.

Alex Maskey MLA, Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development, commented: “It has been very interesting and constructive to speak to representatives from the Private Tenants Forum today. Of course housing is crucially important for everyone, whether it is social housing or privately rented. Today the Committee has had an opportunity to hear firsthand about issues faced by those renting privately and the need for proper regulation of the private sector.

“The Committee will continue to work with the Department for Social Development on housing issues over the coming months. We will have an opportunity to feed the issues raised today back to the Department and help in shaping the way forward for the private rental sector.”

Forum members and local MLAs will be contributing to an event looking at the future of renting privately on 6 November.

Notes to Editors

For further information contact Claire at Housing Rights Service on 90 267925

Spokespersons will be available for comment

1. The Committee for Social Development is meeting in the offices of Housing Rights Service today from 10am - 3pm (23 October 2014). The Committee will then meet with the Private Tenants Forum and discuss ways of improving rented accommodation.
2. Members of the forum are drawn from people whom, by choice or necessity, have encountered problems in rented accommodation and wish to see an improvement in standards. Many have used the advice service of Housing Rights Service in an attempt to resolve difficulties they have faced in the sector. The forum does not claim to represent the views of all private tenants: rather it is a group of volunteers using their personal experience to advocate for change.
3. Housing Rights Service is holding a one day conference: Bigger and Better-The future of private renting in Northern Ireland at Riddell Hall on 6th November.