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New regulations ‘will protect private tenants’

Thousands of tenants in private rented accommodation across Northern Ireland will be better protected by a new landlord regulation scheme, says Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie.

If backed by the Assembly, a mandatory registration scheme will be created, meaning private landlords will have to provide details to a register for the first time.

It is aimed at ensuring all private landlords are held accountable, made aware of their responsibilities and of their rights and tenants.

The proposals will be brought to the Assembly over the next few months and, if supported, will become law in spring 2011. It is part of a new private rented strategy ‘Building Sound Foundations’, following a public consultation.

It includes a rent deposit scheme to protect deposit agreements between tenants and landlords and an education and awareness programme.

Almost one in six dwellings in Northern Ireland is in the private rented sector.

“That accounts for more than the total of all social housing dwellings put together,” Ms Ritchie said.

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