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Mandatory Registration of landlords key to tackling housing crisis

30 September, 2007

Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann speaking ahead of a Sinn Féin sponsored debate in the Assembly tomorrow, Monday 1st October, has said that the mandatory registration of landlords would have a huge impact on the operation of the housing market not just in tackling abusive rent practices and substandard accommodation and issues such as anti-social tenants but also on more fundamental issues relating the manipulation of the wider housing market by buy-to-let profiteers.

Speaking ahead of the debate Mr McCann said:

"No-one disputes the fact that there is a serious housing crisis. Despite the recent slow down in the bank-busting increases in house prices the fact remains that some 36,000 people are on the waiting lists for social housing, there are huge levels of homelessness and repossessions and thousands of people are simply unable to afford to buy a home.

"There is a powerful cycle at work where the massive shortfall in social and affordable housing is being met by the private sector and especially through the unregulated expansion of the buy-to-let market. This in turns sucks millions out of the public housing sector and undermines its ability to provide the social and affordable housing that is needed.

"We must also recognise that while there are many responsible landlords who would surely welcome mandatory registration that there are also unscrupulous landlords who charge extortionate rents, provide substandard and even dangerous accommodation and who prey on the vulnerable.

"For to long this housing sector has been unregulated, the consequences of which has been the gross abuse of tenants. The fact is that both statutory and voluntary registration has failed, leaving it to market forces to regulate the sector which has only made matters worse. We have an obligation to ensure those most in need in our society are protected.

"Legislation has already been initiated elsewhere, it now time to bring in legislation here. We need to clean up a sector which has been the master of its own house for too long, which was to the detriment of the tenants they are supposed to provide for." ENDS

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