Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Seeking room for improvement

I am gobsmacked at the Assembly debate on Regulation of Private Landlords (Hansard, October 13).

Legislation covers (only) unfit properties and is used sparingly.

The motion sought to expedite legislation to ensure only fit landlords rent out properties.

Landlords benefit from generous subsidies. I’ve always thought that this money from the public purse is given to secure the wellbeing of private sector tenants. In return, and instead of improving unfit properties and managing tenancies effectively, speculators have been voraciously buying up family homes across the province — pricing ordinary people out of the market and ensuring a shortage of affordable housing in the owner/occupier sector.

To my dismay, several MLAs disclosed that they are landlords themselves. MLAs take the moral high ground when it comes to conflicts of interest in public sector governance, but see no need to withdraw when it comes to their own interests. As if to add insult to injury, the Minister for Social Development assured members that: “I have instructed officials to engage with it concerning regulatory matters” — it being, of course, the Landlords Association of Northern Ireland. I think I’ll go and lie down in a darkened room, when I can afford one!



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