A 2.7% Housing Executive rent increase – which had been due to come into effect from today (Monday) – has been put on hold.
It will not now be introduced until October 1, it has been confirmed by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.
She said: “I am well aware that the Housing Executive needs a long-term revitalisation programme in order to deliver much-needed investment in its homes and neighbourhoods.
“One of my earliest decisions as Minister was to approve the first Housing Executive rent increase in five years, in recognition of this.
But we are now in a very different landscape. People are worried about their jobs, their income and whether they can pay their rent. The last thing they need is to face a rent increase this week.
“I want to assure the Housing Executive’s tenants that the rent increase will not take effect until the beginning of October 2020.”
Minister Hargey announced last week that the Housing Executive and Housing Associations had agreed that, where their tenants are facing difficulties paying rent during Covid-19, they will not be evicted.
Minister Hargey added: “I will continue to do everything I can to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on tenants. I am assured that the NIHE is taking a sympathetic and proactive approach to any tenant who has been impacted by the current emergency.
“I want to extend my sincere thanks to the Housing Executive for everything it is doing to support its tenants, and for urgently taking steps to postpone the rent increase at very short notice.”
The postponement of the rent increase applies only to Housing Executive tenants.
Housing Executive tenants who are in receipt of Universal Credit are asked to look out for contact from the Housing Executive in the coming days, to help them ensure their payments are accurate.
Sinn Féin Councillor Catherine Nelson welcomed the announcement.
“One of the queries that has been prevalent in recent weeks has been the scheduled rent increase, due to take place this week, for Housing Executive tenants,” commented councillor Nelson.
“At a time when so many are worried about their jobs, their income and whether they can pay bills including their rent the last thing they need is a rent increase.
“I raised this with the Minister and am delighted that she has confirmed the rent increase will now not take effect until the beginning of October 2020.
“This will provide much needed relief to many Housing Executive’s tenants.”