Tens of thousands of renters in Northern Ireland could be lured away from the PRS if a new intermediate renting model gets the go ahead.

The Northern Ireland government has come up with its version of affordable rent schemes in the UK and Ireland – Intermediate Rent – that sits between private and social renting.

It aims to provide affordable homes for tenants who can’t or don’t want to buy their own home and are unlikely to have a chance of accessing social housing in an area of their choice.

The Department for Communities estimates there are about 135,000 households in the PRS, 50,400 of which pay 25% or more of their income on rent, with 20,000 spending more than 40%, and who could benefit from access to an Intermediate Rent home.

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A further 2,000 new households are set to access private rented homes each year, 800-900 of which will experience affordability issues.

Intermediate rent

Intermediate Rent is more affordable than private renting, with rents at up to 80% of market prices and with longer tenancies than the usual 12 months. It also connects tenants with a network of support services.

Unlike the process for accessing a social home using a points-based waiting list, an application process based on a first-come, first-served basis would be used to match tenants with properties, while rents would be reviewed regularly.

The department says it is keen to start rolling out a programme – funded by government loans and private finance – beginning with the acquisition of already developed properties to use as Intermediate Rent homes, before scaling up to new build development, including an element of new mixed tenure developments.

A public consultation is open for responses to the plan until 14th January 2022.

Read more about PRS reforms in NI.

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