Northern Ireland politicians have voted to overturn a proposal that would have cut private rents in the country by 10%.
Assembly members were debating amendments to the Private Tenancies Bill, which aims to strengthen the rights of private tenants by restricting rent increases to only once a year, as well as ensuring private renters don’t have to pay more than one month’s deposit up front.
Gerry Carroll MLA had called for the Bill to include allowing those tenants who have lived in a property for more than six months to get a 10% rent reduction for a year, followed by a rent freeze for three years. However, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey urged MLAs not to support it after many failed to oppose it during a previous vote. She said it put the Bill at risk of failing.
Hargey added: “The amendment places a duty on my department to conduct a consultation on a rent reduction and rent freeze. That is in keeping with the spirit of the amendment that was passed by the Assembly at consideration stage. The consultation will result in a report that is to be produced and laid before the Assembly within six months of the Bill’s receiving Royal Assent.”
A Landlords Association of Northern Ireland spokesman tells LandlordZONE that the vote was simply a piece of electioneering in the run-up to local elections. He adds: “We’re opposed to the fact that by not being allowed to take more than one month deposit it means foreign students who don’t have a guarantor, and who previously paid a three or four month deposit, will end up having to pay one year up front instead.”
The proposed law, which will also make it mandatory for private rental properties to be fitted with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as having mandatory electrical checks, will now go through its final stage before it can become law.