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Private Tenants Survey published

Published: Thur, 22 Mar 2018
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The Private Tenants Survey report was launched by our Research team today
Two out of three tenants plan to stay in the private rented sector for the next five years, according to research published by the Housing Executive today
The Private Tenants Survey report on research into the views and experiences of privately renting tenants has been released today by the Housing Executive.
The report covers a range of topics including affordability, the landlord-tenant relationship, future intentions and regulation within the sector. It indicates high levels of satisfaction amongst tenants with both their landlord/letting agent and their home.
The private rented sector in Northern Ireland has grown dramatically in size and importance in recent decades, with approximately one in five households now renting privately.  It has been the second largest housing tenure in Northern Ireland since 2009, with social housing waiting lists and difficulty accessing the owner occupied sector among the key factors driving the demand for private rented housing.
This research by the Housing Executive follows on from similar surveys that were carried out in 2006 and 2012.
The survey found:
  • 83% of respondents were satisfied with their current accommodation and 86% said they were on good terms with their landlord/letting agent;
  • Three quarters of tenants (77%) had paid an up-front cost, in the form of a deposit and/or rent in advance, to secure their accommodation;
  • The average amount paid up-front was £794 and almost half (47%) said they had found these costs difficult to afford;
  • 59% received Housing Benefit to help cover their housing costs;
  • 64% of private tenants intended to stay in the sector for the next five years.
The survey indicated that private renting provides an accessible housing option for a wide range of households, especially when other alternatives are not available.
The most common reasons for renting privately related to family/personal circumstances (29%) and difficulty accessing social or owner-occupied housing (22%), and only one quarter in total of those surveyed intended to move to a Housing Executive dwelling, or to buy their own home, within the next five years.
The survey also suggests that landlords are becoming more professional in their approach to tenancy management.  By 2016, the proportion of respondents who had a written tenancy agreement had increased to 77%, compared with 68% in 2012. However, landlords are also obliged to provide tenants with rent books and energy performance certificates for their dwellings.
A much lower proportion of respondents had received these documents, suggesting there is still some way to go to ensure that both tenants and landlords are aware of, and comply with, their legal rights and responsibilities.
The Housing Executive’s Head of Research, Karly Greene, said:
“Continued research in the private rented sector is vitally important, in order to understand this sector of the housing market and to keep abreast of issues facing the sector.  It is clear that reliance on and demand for the sector continues to grow and that there is a need for ongoing attention from policy makers.
“This is particularly important in the present context of ongoing welfare reform.  Around 70,000 tenants in the private rented sector in Northern Ireland are currently in receipt of Housing Benefit, a means tested benefit for those who are on low incomes.  Welfare Reform and the phasing in of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland are likely to exacerbate issues facing private renting tenants, including security, affordability and supply.
“From a supply side, the sector is vital in meeting housing need, including for those who might traditionally have been housed in the social sector.
“The launch of this report provides an important opportunity to discuss the private rented sector in detail and highlight potential changes and challenges.”
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