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30 March, 2020 Open access

No social housing tenant in Northern Ireland will be evicted for non-payment of rent during coronavirus outbreak, Minister confirms

In addition, Housing Executive has implemented 'surge plan' to ensure safety of those in homeless accommodation settings

No social housing tenant in Northern Ireland will be evicted for non-payment of rent during the coronavirus outbreak, the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has confirmed.

Outlining measures she is putting in place to ensure people continue to have secure accommodation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Hargey said - 

'I can announce that my Department has an agreement in place with all social housing landlords (Housing Executive and Housing Associations) that any social housing tenant facing difficulties paying rent during Covid-19 will not be evicted.  My Department will work with Housing Associations and the Housing Executive to help them keep tenants in their homes and to ensure that the welfare system can provide help to their tenants as quickly as possible.  You can be assured your home is secure.'

Acknowledging the particular difficulties faced by those who are homeless and those who support them in shelters, hostels and emergency accommodation, Ms Hargey added - 

'The Housing Executive, which leads on the response to homelessness, has a central COVID-19 team in place and will continue to fulfil its statutory homeless obligations during this period.  The Housing Executive has sourced additional accommodation and is working with my Department, the Public Health Agency and Trusts (which have set up a nurse lead team) and the Department of Health to implement its surge plan, ensure the safety of those in homeless accommodation settings and to respond to staffing and capacity pressures presented by COVID-19.'

NB - also, stressing the importance of the advice sector, Ms Hargey said - 

'I am also looking at what additional urgent financial resource I can provide to Housing Rights to support our citizens at this time. I know that they have been very busy. They are experts in their field and I will ensure they have the finance they need to offer the best of their advice to those who need it.'

For more information see Housing support crucial in this crisis - Hargey from communities-ni.gov.uk