Over the past ten years, there has been exponential growth in Northern Ireland’s Private Rented Sector (PRS), with the most growth seen between 2006 and 2011 where the number of private rented properties increased by over 40,000 separate dwellings. The shift towards PRS properties has resulted in a drive from the Department for Social Development (DSD), now Department for Communities (DfC), to carry out a review of the sector and it issued a discussion paper in November 2015.
The DfC’s vision is to promote affordable and good quality housing across Northern Ireland and to improve regulation within the sector. This has been seen already through the successful introduction of Tenancy Deposit and Landlord Registration
s Schemes, with which an estimated 90% of landlords are compliant.
A recent survey of tenants carried out by the DfC shows support for the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, with comments from those within the sector confirming their value and the positive impact on the sector. Additionally, some responses to the discussion paper on the review of the sector showed a strong interest in amending elements of the tenancy deposit legislation.
Further findings show that recent changes to the Notice to Quit periods were welcomed, providing greater security for longer term tenants who currently make up at least 22% of the private rented market, with a further 32% stating that they would rent for a longer period of time.
The results published clearly show that the right steps are being taken to improve the quality of the Private Rented Sector, contributing to its growth and an improvement to its welfare. There is also a clear consensus that protection for the tenant as well as the landlord is crucial which has been shown through support for recent legislative changes and developments in the sector.