Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Councillor Tony Hassan has welcomed the passing of a motion in the Assembly calling for regulation of the private rental sector accommodation.
“Sinn Fein has always argued for robust legislative change to bring the private rented sector into line with other housing providers.
“The private rented sector receives over £300m of public funding for rents through housing benefit yet landlords are not regulated and many of the properties are not up to the required standard.
“The private rented sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in housing increasing from 65,300 houses to over 130,000 in 2014.
“The current regulations are clearly ineffective and need to be reviewed to include effective regulation to protect the rights of tenants and to make landlords responsible for their dwellings.
“The introduction of the Landlords registration scheme, which had the final date of February 2015 to register still has a way to go for full registration.
“It was my understanding that on March 20th 39,000 landlords had registered who provided details of 85,000 private tenancies a short fall of thousands given there are an estimated 130,000 tenancies or over 17% of all households.
“I recognise there are many in the private rented sector who provide high-quality decent houses for their tenants and without them the housing crisis would be much worse.
“But there are also many who provide poor housing and have little concern for their tenants safety and welfare.
“Under the law private rental properties must meet the basic minimum fitness standards such as ensuring a property is structurally stable, has adequate lighting, heating and ventilation, and is free from dampness that could damage health.
“The absentee Minister Mervyn Storey needs to return to his desk so this type of regulation can be implemented and tenants can be protected. Houses in the private rental sector must meet the standards required for a safe modern home.”