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Minister Hargey outlines plan to improve protections in private rented sector

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Deirdre Hargey

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has today outlined her plans to ensure people and families living in the private rented sector have a safe and secure home.

The Minister was speaking as she published the Departmental response to a consultation on proposals to reform the sector.

The move builds on Minister Ní Chuilín’s statement to Assembly in November 2020 on housing. Minister Hargey said: “I want to improve the private rented sector and will do this by ensuring that people and families who live in this sector have a safe and secure home.”

The Minister now intends to ask the Executive to bring legislation to the Assembly to implement some of the proposals published today in the response to the consultation.

The Minister continued: “My officials are working on drafting a Bill to deliver much need improvements. This will include a longer notice to quit period. For me, four weeks is too short a time for anyone to be asked to leave their home, find a suitable new house they can afford, maybe find a new school and childcare for their children, and pack up their belongings. It’s not enough.

“Rented homes should have safe electrics, and tenants should be safe from the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Homes should be warm and energy efficient. I’ve also already started work that would see councils being provided with additional powers to strengthen and provide local enforcement.”

Delivering an ambitious reform of the private rented sector in this mandate, accompanied by primary legislation is challenging. The Minister continued: “It is clear reform is urgently needed to improve protections in the private rented sector particularly for the most vulnerable in our communities. The initial Bill is only the start. In the longer term I will also address issues such as Letting Agent Regulation, the introduction of Grounds for Eviction and Fitness Standards. These improvements have been a long time coming and will enhance conditions for tenants living in the sector.”

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