CIH calls for a property management licensing scheme for Northern Ireland
Findings from an independent evaluation of a new programme for private landlords has prompted the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Northern Ireland to call for a government backed scheme to recognise landlord accreditation.
The ‘Learning 2 let’ pilot programme began in 2016 and to date has trained 230 private landlords and letting agent staff. The evaluation results reveal that two thirds of participants have changed their practices as a result of gaining a CIH qualification.
There are currently 49,857 registered landlords and over 128,000 private rented homes in Northern Ireland, representing 17.4 per cent of the total housing stock and exceeding social sector housing.
Calling for the reform of the current system, CIH Northern Ireland director Nicola McCrudden said: “Private rented accommodation plays a critical role in meeting housing need today and will continue in the future. Whilst standards are generally good, they can’t be guaranteed throughout the sector. We are still seeing tenants at the lower end of the market living in unsatisfactory conditions.
“The current system in place is a mandatory landlord register, but this in itself is not enough. We need to move beyond a purely administrative system and be more proactive by encouraging professional practice which will bring about positive change.
“Landlords and letting agents who have participated in our ‘Learning 2 let’ project say it has improved their knowledge and that they have changed their practices as a result. We are calling for the introduction of a licensing system built around training accreditation, which would ask landlords to demonstrate how they are qualified in property and tenancy management.
“This would not only help good and fair-minded landlords to achieve a recognised ‘quality mark’, it would also help to safeguard tenants against rogue landlords, poor quality dwellings, and industry malpractice.”
Some of the findings reported in the interim study into the ‘Learning 2 let’ programme include:
- 91 per cent stated that the training they received increased their knowledge in issues relating to their role as a landlord or letting agent, with 85 per cent of this total agreeing that they were able to apply the new knowledge they had gained
- 91 per cent stated that they were more confident about the legalities of renting, as a result of the training course, 91 per cent also said they were confident about complying with regulations, and 74 per cent agreed that their confidence in dealing with their tenants had increased
- 78 per cent agreed that completing the training programme has resulted in an improved service delivery to their tenants
- 67 per cent said they have changed their practices in their role as a landlord, as a direct result of the course.
In terms of the landlord profile, demographic make-up, and professional motivations, findings included:
- 46 per cent of landlords surveyed have been in the sector for more than 11 years
- 82 per cent of landlords surveyed gave financial reasons for becoming a landlord, while just 14 per cent classed themselves as an ‘accidental landlord’
- 14 per cent of landlords owned just one property, 21 per cent owned two, and 33 per cent owned between three and five properties.
Ms McCrudden said: “The findings show a clear desire amongst landlords to increase their knowledge, better understand the law and become more customer focused, in order to deliver a better service to their tenants.
“Most private landlords are not in it for quick short term gains, but are instead in it for the long haul. They should be encouraged to keep on learning, developing, and improving and we believe accreditation has a role to play in this.”
Bursary support for ‘Learning 2 let’ is provided by the Department for Communities.
For further information contact Trevor Wright, learning development officer on 028 9077 8222 or email email@example.com.
Notes to editors:1. The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards. Our goal is simple – to provide housing professionals with the advice, support and knowledge they need to be brilliant. CIH is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. This means that the money we make is put back into the organisation and funds the activities we carry out to support the housing sector. We have a diverse membership of people who work in both the public and private sectors, in 20 countries on five continents across the world.