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If Durkan wants progress on regulation of landlords he should speak to Margaret Ritchie

17 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, Fra McCann MLA has ridiculed SDLP leader Mark Durkan's position on housing regulation.

Mr McCann said:

"It is rank hypocrisy for Mark Durkan to show support for the very important Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) campaign for stronger protection of the rights of private tenants at Westminster while the SDLP Housing Minister continues to sit on the fence about the regulation of private landlords here.

"Sinn Fein have repeatedly called for the mandatory regulation of private landlords to protect the rights of tenants.

"Less than three weeks ago Housing Minister Margaret Ritchie told my colleague John O'Dowd that despite Assembly support for a Sinn Fein motion calling for mandatory regulation in October 2007 that she is still 'deciding if further regulation is required'.

"If Mark Durkan really wants to address the right of private tenants here, then he would do more to support the campaign if he encouraged his party colleague Margaret Ritchie to get on with making a decision.

"Sinn Féin will continue to push for the mandatory regulation of private landlords and for proper protection to be put in place for the most vulnerable groups in the housing market. We have again tabled a motion calling for action. Given that Margaret Ritchie's entire approach to the social housing crisis appears to be to privatise the problem you would have thought that putting in these protections in place would have been a priority." ENDS

Note to Editors

AQO 3782/08 Mr O'Dowd (SF - Upper Bann) To ask the Minister for Social Development to outline her plans to regulate private landlords in the social housing sector.

The private rented sector plays an important role in the housing market. In February of this year, I met with representatives of the Landlords Association and gave an undertaking that my officials would arrange to meet regularly with them. The Private Tenancies Order, which came into effect in April 2007, introduced improved regulation of the sector. My officials have begun an evaluation of the impact of the Order. They are also examining developments in relation to the licensing of landlords in both Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

I want to complete and consider both pieces of work fully before deciding if further regulation is required here.

Fra McCann has also tabled a written question for answer in relation to the motion passed by the Assembly on 1 October 2007 calling for the mandatory registration of landlords in the private sector. My officials are concluding their findings on the schemes currently in operation in Scotland and in the South of Ireland and are due to present a full report to me shortly.

Sinn Féin Housing Motion to the Assembly

Regulation of Private Landlords

That this Assembly calls on the Minister for Social Development to bring forward a proposal for legislation on the regulation of private landlords.

[Ms C Ní Chuilín]
[Mr F McCann]
[Mr M Brady]
[05 June 2008]

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