In the run-up to the Assembly election coming on Thursday May 5, Homeless Connect developed a manifesto to take to political parties putting forward candidates.
We worked with our members and our policy forum to develop the manifesto. It includes ten policy proposals which, if enacted, would make a real difference in preventing and reducing homelessness here.
As polling day nears, we are going to publish a series of blogs unpacking the ten proposals and explaining why they matter.
For all our Assembly Election 2022 coverage (including the rest of our own manifesto) click here.
Reform the private rental sector to ensure it is fit for purpose.
One of the bright spots of the 2017-2022 Assembly mandate was the passage into law of the Private Tenancies Bill.[i] This Bill (now Act) introduce some much needed reforms to the private rented sector here, including increasing the length of the Notice to Quit period which landlords have to give to tenants; introducing a restriction on the number of rent rises which can take place in a year; and placing restrictions on the amount landlords can charge for a tenancy deposit.
However, due to a lack of legislative time, this Act has been described as the first step in a two-step legislative process of reform. While the Act was welcome, it left some key areas of regulation unreformed. Much needed reforms around the regulatory framework for letting agents; fitness standards; landlord licensing; and oversight mechanisms need to be brought forward.
For some households experiencing or at risk of homelessness, the private rented sector can be a housing option. However, the current regulatory and legislative framework in this area has failed to adequately support many people experiencing homelessness to access and sustain private rented accommodation on a sustainable basis.
We are calling on all parties running candidates in this election to commit to bring forward the second step of reform to the Private Rental Sector.
[i] NI Assembly, “Private Tenancies Bill”, accessed 11 April 2022,