The Northern Ireland Assembly has published independent research on what a rent decrease of up to 10% and/or a rent freeze for up to four years will do the private rental sector.
Under the Private Tenancies Act (Northern Ireland) 2022, section 7 amended the Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, so that the frequency of rent increases would be restricted to once every 12 months.
Now a report by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) reveals that there is no evidence that further rent control is required in Northern Ireland.
The report reveals that tenants have said it is ‘neither easy nor difficult’ to be able to afford their rent, and the most recent data on market rents quoted in the report shows affordability is improving.
Affordability issues for low-income households
However, the CIH’s analysis shows affordability issues for low-income households because of the social security system, such as freezes in local housing allowance rates.
However, the report predicts that up to 60% of landlords could exit the private rental market in Northern Ireland if either a rent decrease or rent freeze were adopted.
The CIH reports says that a rent freeze or decrease would largely benefit existing tenants who remain in their homes and whose landlords do not sell or repurpose their properties.
The report highlights that should such a move be brought in, some rental properties may be sold to landlords, keeping the property within the sector, but some landlords may decide to leave the sector or opt for the short-term holiday let market.
With a shortage of privately rented accommodation and social housing, plus the increased demand for privately rented homes, the best way of relieving pressure on rent prices is by having enough housing supply, the report says.
‘The biggest reason landlords are giving for selling rental properties’
Timothy Douglas, the head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark said: “Our own polling and research shows the biggest reason landlords are giving for selling rental properties is rising costs.
“This will be exacerbated if their rental income is cut or frozen. We also know that as many as half of the properties sold do not return to the rental market.”
He added: “The report acknowledges what we’ve been saying all along, that the best way to maintain affordability is to have enough homes to rent, privately and in the social sector.
“The new Northern Ireland Assembly must therefore ditch this rent control agenda and focus its efforts on delivering the quota of new housing across all tenures that was promised in the ambitious Housing Supply Strategy.”