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Communities Minister Hargey furthers Bill to protect private tenants

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has today moved the second stage of the Private Tenancies Bill in the Assembly.

The Private Tenancies Bill, introduced by the Minister in July, improves protections for tenants living in the private rented sector.

Minister Hargey said:

“This Bill will ensure that those renting privately have access to good quality housing with peace of mind over the safety and security of their home. As I said when I introduced the Bill, this is just the beginning of my reform of the housing system. In the longer term I will address issues such as letting agent regulation, grounds for eviction and fitness standards.”

Minister Hargey continued:

“As the sector is increasing in size, and houses a wide variety of people, it is important to make improvements and future proof it to ensure greater protection for private renters.

“This Bill will make the private rented sector a safer and more secure housing option for people living in it by improving the standards and conditions.”

The Bill contains a number of proposed improvements including:

• restricting rent increases to once in a 12 month period;

• extending the notice to quit period a landlord must give a tenant;

• setting limits on tenancy deposit amounts; and

• making it a mandatory requirement for private landlords to provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and to carry out periodic electrical checks.

The Minister concluded:

“I also want to acknowledge that many landlords provide an important source of housing and played an important role in supporting tenants during the pandemic.”

The Private Tenancies Bill is available at Private Tenancies Bill (external link opens in a new window / tab

The changes follow a consultation on the Role and Regulation of the Private Rented Sector. The Department’s response to the Consultation is available at Private Rented Sector in Northern Ireland - Proposals for Change | Department for Communities. It includes potential future changes including Letting Agent regulation, introduction of grounds for eviction and a review of fitness standards.

The private rented sector is now similar in size to the social housing sector.

Nearly half of those in the private rented sector are in receipt of some element of housing support, either through Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. In 2019/20, over £270 million pounds was paid out in Housing Benefit and Universal Credit costs to the private rented sector.


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