Tenants living with the Northern Ireland private rented sector have been promised more protection with the introduction of a Private Tenancies Bill.
If approved by the Assembly, the Bill would make it mandatory for landlords to provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and to carry out periodic electrical checks.
It also proposes limiting tenancy deposit amounts to one month, extending the notice to quit period, and restricting rent increases so that rent can’t be raised in the 12 months after a tenancy starts or within 12 months of a previous increase.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey (pictured) says the needs of tenants are at the heart of her approach.
“Private renters should have access to good-quality, affordable homes with peace of mind over the length and conditions of their rental contract. I want to see restrictions in rent increases and I want to extend the notice to quit, meaning we protect tenants when it comes to evictions.”
Electrical Safety First says the Bill finally gives tenants in Northern Ireland the same protection from electrical dangers provided to PRS tenants in England and Scotland.
However, the charity’s chief executive Lesley Rudd, adds: “The Bill, at present, does not specify the frequency of the proposed electrical safety checks and we would urge the Assembly to ensure these are introduced on a five-yearly basis.”
Propertymark believes it will be important to get the detail right to make sure the safety measures are effective.
It adds that some aspects of the Bill could demotivate existing landlords and discourage new landlords from entering the market.
Says strategic development director Scotland and Northern Ireland, Daryl McIntosh (Pictured): “It is important to recognise that landlords make an essential contribution to local housing systems providing homes for those who need them. Propertymark will be scrutinising the Bill as it progresses.”
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