Letting agents in England waiting to find out the contents of the government’s delayed renting reforms should spare a thought for the Northern Ireland (NI) industry.
Its government has now begun discussing plans for rent reform in earnest including restrictions on the frequency of rent increases, changes to Notice to Quit periods, caps on deposits, and powers to introduce regulations on minimum energy efficiency standards and electrical safety.
Although NI is playing catch-up after years of political paralysis, its proposals go further than many proposed or enacted laws within the rest of the UK.
Propertymark’s spokesman Daryl McIntosh (pictured), who gave evidence to the NI parliament about the looming Private Tenancies Bill, says “some are very welcome, some don’t go far enough and some need to go forward with caution”.
Discussing the impact of proposed changes McIntosh highlighted the need for fairness.
“It’s a lot about balance – everybody wants tenants to have rights, and make sure they are secure in their home, but on the other side is the property owner.
“Generally, a landlord will have a reason to recover their property and there should be grounds for possession to meet that reason.
“Bear in mind that a notice to quit doesn’t automatically give the property back it’s just an intention [and] serving a six-month notice can then lead to a year if the tenant does not vacate the property, which is a long time if it’s a case of rent arrears.”
He raised concerns over the unintended consequences of making numerous changes in a short space of time which are likely to represent a significant shift in practice, increasing restrictions or costs for landlords.