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Social Development Minister must bring forward robust Landlord registration

12 October, 2010 - by Fra McCann

Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Fra McCann, has called on Social Development Minister to explain to those who live in the private rented sector why he is opting for a soft touch approach to mandatory registration of this sector.

Speaking today Mr McCann said:

“Sinn Féin have for some years been calling for a mandatory registration scheme attaching strong compliance powers.

“A recent consultation carried out by the Social Development Minister’s department, with a several exceptions, have called for a strong registration scheme. In fact all the indications were that a strong action should be taken against this unregulated sector which gets upwards of £80 million per year in housing benefit.

“If this was the community sector then the department would be requiring that every penny was accounted for and yet some within this sector has been involved in providing poor housing, using illegal evictions, threats against vulnerable tenants, retention of deposits when people leave, charging more than the housing benefit rate plunging people into debt, and on occasions several agents have charged by the calendar month to get the extra several weeks in the year.

“We in Sinn Féin recognise that the private rented sector are an essential part in the provision of rented accommodation. Many provide good quality accommodation but many do not.

“We have stated that the rules which guide the rest of the housing sectors such the Housing Executive and the housing associations should apply. Self regulation does not work and a light touch mandatory registration scheme will fail because it will lack the teeth to ensure landlords treat their tenants with respect and comply with the scheme.

“Sinn Féin demand that a mandatory registration scheme with strong regulatory power be legislated for immediately. The Minister needs to spell out publicly why they have abandoned those who seek help in this sector.” ENDS

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