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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Northern Ireland election: Propertymark calls for housing to top the agenda

Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly are due to be held on 5 May and agents are hoping that housing remains high on the agenda.

The Northern Ireland Executive collapsed in February amid concerns about Brexit and the UK-Ireland border.

Voters will go to the polls tomorrow to elect new Members of the Legislative Assembly, amid rumours that nationalists could take key roles.

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Whoever is elected, agency trade body Propertymark wants representatives to commit to four property-related areas:

- Deliver more housing by meeting the quotas set by the Housing Supply Strategy, incentivising investment in the private rented sector, opposing any form of rent control, and bringing empty homes back into use.
- Raise the quality of the existing housing stock through long-term funding for energy efficiency improvements.
- Improve regulation and professionalisation by introducing mandatory qualifications and fit and proper person tests, and a dedicated housing tribunal.
- Support private sector landlords and tenants by simplifying guidance on private tenancies so landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities, and introducing an annual national housing survey to gather data to inform future housing policies.

Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark’s policy manager for the UK devolved nations, said “Our manifesto highlights four areas we believe the next Executive of the Northern Ireland Assembly needs to focus on to ensure that everyone has access to a good quality and affordable home.

“Progress has been made by the incumbent Executive on a number of housing issues, most notably the passing of the Private Tenancies Bill and the forthcoming Housing Supply Strategy, but there is still much more to be done to regulate the sector and improve property standards.

“The next mandate is an opportunity for issues relating to supply and standards to be addressed and we're calling on all parties to recognise the crucial role played by those in the property sector to meet these needs.”

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