Call for Evidence - Private Tenancies Bill

Closes 29 Oct 2021

Opened 5 Oct 2021

Overview

Context of the Bill

The private rented sector has grown over the past number of years to become the second largest type of housing tenure. It is now larger than the social housing sector and accounts for over 17% of all housing stock in Northern Ireland. Almost half of those living in the private rented sector receive state financial support via Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help meet housing costs.

The Committee acknowledges that the private rented sector is helping to meet housing need and provides an important housing option for a range of individuals and families and are pleased to see the increased focus on how the sector is regulated.

Background to the Bill

Private Tenancies Bill - As Introduced

Explanatory and Financial Memorandum

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The History of improvements to the regulatory regime for the sector stems from then Department for Social Development’s Private Rented Sector Strategy, ‘Building Sound Foundations’ (2010), which introduced the Tenancy Deposit and Landlord Registration Schemes.

The Housing Strategy Action Plan 2012-2017 then committed the Department to undertaking a review of the private rented sectors to consider the current and potential future role of the sector and assess the effectiveness of current regulation, identifying where improvements could be made to help make the private rented sector a more attractive housing option.

The Department carried out a review of the role and regulation of the private rented sector in two stages.

The first stage of the review was in the form of a discussion paper. The formal consultation on the paper ran from 12 November 2015 until 5 February 2016, followed by face to face engagement with stakeholder groups.

The second stage of the review used the information obtained during the first stage and set out recommendations for enhancing and improving the sector in the context of the housing strategy aim of making the private rented sector a more attractive housing option for a wider range of households.

The Department then established a consultative working group, which met on four occasions and looked in detail at the key issues that had emerged. This resulted in the ‘Proposals for Change document’. The formal consultation ran from 10 January 2017 until 3 April 2017 seeking responses to 16 proposals covering:  Supply; Affordability; Security of Tenure; Tenancy Management; Property Standards and Dispute Resolution.

The Committee acknowledges that this Bill has a focused remit and does not address all of the issues covered in the proposals but hopes it will assist in making the private rented sector a safer and more secure housing option for a wider range of households.

The Department’s approach to the outstanding issues not covered by the Bill (as a number need to dealt with over a longer timescale) can be found at Departmental Response Consultation on the Review of the Role and Regulation of the Private Rented Sector (communities-ni.gov.uk).

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