Housing Minister Nelson McCausland

HOUSING Minister Nelson McCausland has unvieled new plans to get tough on tenants involved in anti-social behaviour.

The DUP MLA told the Stormont Assembly he  wants to introduce new legislation modelled on the Scottish form of demoted tenancy to help housing associations deal with householders who flout the  law.

“This yellow card system will send a strong message to tenants who do not act  in an appropriate way,” said Mr McCausland.

The Housing Executive has a system for tackling anti-social behaviour. However, there is more limited evidence of  effective practice within the housing association movement.

Mr McCausland said departmental officials had been liaising closely with  housing associations and hoped setting up a system similar to the Short Scottish  Secure Tenancy – a short term or probationary tenancy agreement which can be  given to tenants by a council, housing association or housing co-op. It is  designed to help tenants who have committed anti-social behaviour to modify  their behaviour and retain their tenancy.

The new plans are among a range of proposals included in Northern Ireland’s  first housing strategy which has been put out to public consultation.

Other initiatives include the establishment of a housing supply forum that  will bring together key stakeholders to develop practical solutions; the  provision of an interest free loan to promote the development of affordable  homes and the commission of a fundamental review of how social housing is  allocated.

Mr McCausland added: “The proposals set out milestones for the next five  years and a vision focused on ensuring access to good quality housing at a  reasonable cost.Of course, facing the future means facing the realities of  economic recovery, creating employment and regenerating our most deprived and  neglected communities and the future of housing here has a significant role to  play.

“We need to create the right conditions to grow a sustainable housing market,  provide support for individuals and families and get the structures in place  that will deliver for future generations.”

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey who chairs Stormont’s social development committee  welcomed the housing strategy.

However, he added: “It is incredible that one did not already exist.”

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