Stormont has the chance to address critical housing issues with policy refresh

The Department for Communities (DfC) is refreshing it's proposals for reform of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) which were first published in 2017 . In response to their stakeholder survey, Propertymark has urged the DfC to prioritise increasing housing supply, regulating property agents, and taking a carefully considered approach to energy efficiency targets.

Northern Ireland Londonderry rooftop houses.jpg

Propertymark engagement in Northern Ireland

The DfC wants to progress with the second phase of reforms following the introduction of the Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Act 2022. Propertymark responded to the consultation on phase two proposals in 2017 and has continued to work with the Department, helping to shape the Private Tenancies Act. In March 2024, we met with the DfC to discuss the future of the landlord registration scheme.

07 Feb 2024
How the housing market should be supported in Northern Ireland

Housing supply is the most critical issue

As in the rest of the UK, demand for both private rented and social housing far outstrips demand in Northern Ireland. The PRS is under pressure as it is essential in providing homes both for people who would be better served by social housing and for those unable to afford to buy their property.

A committed effort is needed to increase the supply of housing across all tenures to improve access and choice in the housing market and to decrease pressure on rents.

Phase in the regulation of property agents

Setting and enforcing minimum qualification and conduct standards is the key to sustainably raising standards in the housing sector.

Propertymark suggests the following four-phase introduction would help agents and landlords adjust to new requirements.

  1. Require letting agents to join a list of Government-approved professional bodies
  2. Introduce Client Money Protection and Professional Indemnity Insurance requirements
  3. Introduce a Code of Practice for letting agents and a requirement to belong to a redress scheme
  4. Registration, relevant qualification, and ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements
18 Dec 2023
Adequate funding and support essential to energy efficiency targets

Don’t repeat energy efficiency errors

The DfC should learn from the experience of the other UK nations which have failed to account for the diversity of housing stock and the real-world cost to consumers when setting domestic EPC targets. 

Any targets set must be carefully considered and go hand in hand with funding which matches the actual cost of retrofitting homes. Neglecting this will be likely to push a significant number of landlords out of the market and discourage new entrants, further impacting supply.

Northern Ireland’s policy refresh is a chance for Stormont to finally enact the regulation of letting agents and provide consumers with the protection and peace of mind they need when buying or selling their dream home.

Due to the range of skills needed to become a property agent and the range of housing laws, it is vital those carrying out roles in the property sector are competent enough to do so. 

Timothy Douglas Serious.jpg
Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark
Download our full survey response