Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Plans for unruly tenants announced

Nelson McCausland wants to introduce a 'yellow card' system for housing association tenants

New plans to get tough on social housing tenants who engage in anti-social behaviour have been announced.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland told the Stormont Assembly he wants to introduce new legislation modelled on the Scottish form of demoted tenancy to help housing associations deal with householders who flout the law.

"This yellow card system will send a strong message to tenants who do not act in an appropriate way," the minister said.

In Northern Ireland, the Housing Executive has a well-developed system for tackling anti-social behaviour. However, there is more limited evidence of effective practice within the housing association movement.

Mr McCausland said departmental officials had been liaising closely with housing associations and hoped setting up a system similar to the Short Scottish Secure Tenancy - a short term or probationary tenancy agreement which can be given to tenants by a council, housing association or housing co-op. It is designed to help tenants who have committed anti-social behaviour to modify their behaviour and retain their tenancy.

The new plans are among a range of proposals included in Northern Ireland's first housing strategy which has been put out to public consultation.

Other initiatives include the establishment of a housing supply forum that will bring together key stakeholders to develop practical solutions; the provision of an interest free loan to promote the development of affordable homes and the commission of a fundamental review of how social housing is allocated.

Mr McCausland added: "The proposals set out milestones for the next five years and a vision focused on ensuring access to good quality housing at a reasonable cost.Of course, facing the future means facing the realities of economic recovery, creating employment and regenerating our most deprived and neglected communities and the future of housing here has a significant role to play.

"We need to create the right conditions to grow a sustainable housing market, provide support for individuals and families and get the structures in place that will deliver for future generations."

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey who chairs Stormont's social development committee welcomed the housing strategy but said it was incredible that one did not already exist.

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