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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Tenants call for improvements to private renting

Local charity Housing Rights Service (HRS) is holding an event in Belfast today to encourage debate on how to make renting privately in Northern Ireland a more attractive housing option.

Faced with long waiting lists for social housing and continued difficulties finding a mortgage, more families and individuals are turning to private landlords for accommodation.

Almost 130,000 households in Northern Ireland rent their homes from private landlords.  A rapid growth in the sector means 17% of all homes in Northern Ireland are now rented privately.  The sector remains largely unregulated, despite the fact that it attracts significant levels of public subsidy through the payment of Housing Benefit and houses more people than the social rented sector. 

Following a keynote address from Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey MLA expert speakers from England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, will share their experiences and ideas on how to create a bigger and better private rented sector locally.

A group of local tenants, who came together to help improve conditions in the private rented sector, will launch their “Agenda for Action” at today’s conference.  The Private Tenants’ Forum was set up in 2012 with support from Housing Rights Service.   Their Agenda for Action proposes:

  • Better information & education for tenants and people seeking rented accommodation
  • The removal of  financial barriers that limit people’s access to the sector such as high upfront fees
  • The compulsory licensing of private landlords and letting agents
  • The development of a model tenancy agreement for use by landlords and letting agents
  • Greater security of tenure for tenants who wish to put down roots in their local community
  • Better health and safety standards in rented accommodation
  • Repairs to be carried out within specified timescales
  • The creation of an independent complaints service to help tenants and landlords resolve disputes

Brigitte Anton a member of the forum said: 

“We believe if our proposals are implemented then many thousands of renters will benefit from having better homes to live in. We are keen to work with landlords, government and other renters to make this Agenda for Action a reality and so improve the lot for everyone involved in the private rental sector.”

Peter O’Neill, Policy Officer with HRS commented:

“One in three of all enquiries to Housing Rights Service is about the problems faced by people renting privately.  We welcome the Department for Social Development’s commitment to review regulation in the private rented sector.  We believe that it is critical for issues such as standards, security and affordability, which have been highlighted by the forum, to be addressed as part of this review, if this sector is to present a viable housing option for people. ”

Notes to Editors:
For further information contact Claire at Housing Rights Service on 028 90 267925. Spokespersons will be available for comment

  • Established in 1964 Housing Rights Service (HRS) is the leading specialist provider of independent housing advice in Northern Ireland.  The charity works to achieve positive change by protecting and promoting the rights of people who are in housing need in Northern Ireland.
  • HRS, provided advice and assistance on over 40,000 housing issues during 2013/2014
  • Members of the Private Tenants’ Forum are drawn from people who 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.