Belfast council has unanimously passed a motion calling for the Northern Ireland Executive to introduce a rent control scheme for the city.
Under Northern Ireland law, the council itself cannot unilaterally declare a rent control regime, but its proposal to the NI-wide Executive gives options such as capping annual rent increases, preventing rent increases during a tenancy, or introducing a maximum rent rate.
The motion came from Belfast councillor Mal O’Hara, who is deputy leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland.
He says: “We are facing a housing crisis in Belfast. Almost 12,000 people are on the housing waiting list. We need to act with urgency. Having an affordable, warm and decent home should be a right, not a privilege.
“Rent controls are not a new idea. The private rental market in the UK was regulated for most of the 20th century, with the last regulations only being abolished in 1989. Rent controls are common across Europe, in place in major cities such as Berlin and Paris, and the Scottish Greens have recently guaranteed the introduction of rent controls in Scotland. Renters in Belfast deserve the same protections.
“With the five Executive [political] parties choosing not to keep the Universal Credit uplift, rising fuel costs, rises in National Insurance contribution, and wages stagnation, rent is becoming an increasing pressure on families’ budgets.
"Green councillors worked hard to secure unanimous support across the Council for this motion. Support from all parties suggests this should be an easy legislative change to make. Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is currently bringing a Private Tenancies Bill … She has an opportunity to include Rent Controls in this legislation. Now is the time for the Executive to step in and protect renters from further unaffordable rent increases."
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