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Anderson calls for rent regulation

14 May, 2008

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has called for regulation of private rental charges in order to help low-income families meet their accommodation costs.

"The Housing Executive does have a scheme whereby it can make discretionary payments to Housing Benefit tenants who are in private rented accommodation," Ms. Anderson said following an Assembly discussion on the matter.

"However, it is quite clear that this is not addressing the problem. My office is constantly assisting young families and lone parents who have been forced into private rented accommodation because of the acute lack of social housing in this city.

"Unfortunately, they are then at the mercy of landlords who often charge rents way above what the tenant receives in Housing Benefit.

"This 'benefits gap' is crippling many families who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own but because of the shortage of social housing.

"I am aware of cases where the rent charged by the landlord is £300 a month more that that which the Housing Executive has deemed to be reasonable.

"The fact is that there is absolutely no control on the rents that these people charge and I will be calling on the Assembly to introduce a rent cap to keep them in line with what the Housing Executive deems to be a fair price for any given property in any given area.

"Not only would this address the issue of the benefits gap, I believe it could be applied to all rented accommodation, thereby making affordable housing available to all." ENDS

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