With a growing number of people living in the private rented sector in Northern Ireland, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is calling for all landlords and letting agents to be licensed.
A recent poll shows the majority of CIH members in Northern Ireland, which includes people who work in both social and private rented housing, are in favour of introducing landlord licensing, with 83% of respondents stating that the move is the right way forward as part of wider efforts to build on professional and well-managed private rented housing.
There are currently around 90,000 private tenancies covered by landlord registration in Northern Ireland. The landlords of these properties get written information and support about their duties and responsibilities, but the CIH in Northern Ireland believes that good practice in housing management can be further “promoted and achieved through licensing and training”, according to Nicola McCrudden, CIH director for Northern Ireland.
However, she accepts that a licensing system would have to be sustainable for landlords, given most are part-time or ‘amateur’ landlords operating on a small scale, letting one or two homes.
McCrudden commented: “There are more people living in the private rented sector locally - nearly one in five households - than in social housing and demand is rising. We need to ensure that every tenant has a good quality home which is professionally managed and education has an important role in helping to achieve this.
"The private rented sector is becoming a longer-term option for people of all ages. While standards are generally good it’s not the case throughout the sector and we are still seeing tenants at the lower end of the market living in unsatisfactory conditions.”