This is part of a programme of work to increase the supply of affordable housing and intends to complement the support already in place for social housing and shared ownership (or intermediate housing for sale). This new affordable housing product can also contribute to supporting the delivery of affordable housing through Local Development Plans, which are being taken forward by Councils.
The new Intermediate Rent policy, which sets out the framework for Intermediate Rent to allow for the future development of a new supply of high quality, long-term, affordable housing with support services comes following a public consultation on the new policy. All background papers including the consultation papers, equality screening, Consultation Outcome Report and summary document can be accessed on the Departmental website.
What is Intermediate Rent?
Intermediate Rent is a new housing rental model for the local housing market. It intends to provide an additional rental choice for lower to moderate income households, providing longer-term, higher quality, well-managed homes at below market rents. Intermediate Rent can provide a solution for households struggling to meet open market rental costs, and those wishing to enter low cost home ownership in the future.
The Intermediate Rent Policy intends to:
- create a new supply of homes
- provide much needed high-quality housing at below market rents for those on lower to moderate incomes
- offer homes for rent with at least a 20% discount on prevailing private market rents for a similar property type and size within a locality
- provide homes of a size and type suitable for the number of occupants, in locations where people wish to live
- alleviate some of the up-front barriers to accessing a rented home and be targeted towards eligible lower to moderate income households
- offer enhanced security of tenure by making available tenancies of up to five years at a time and the option to renew subject to the agreement of the landlord and tenant, and
- offer tenants access to effective and prompt property management and tenancy support services
Intermediate Rent tenancies are a form of private rented tenancy, therefore all of the rights and obligations in place in respect of any private tenancy apply to Intermediate Rent tenancies.
Intermediate Rent homes can make a positive difference for tenants when it comes to rental affordability and can reduce or remove some of the barriers which some people can face in finding and sustaining a tenancy in a home that meets their needs.
Intermediate Rent Policy and ‘Homes for Intermediate Rent Design Standards’
The Intermediate Rent policy document, which has been developed following extensive stakeholder engagement, outlines the key principles of the Intermediate Rent housing product and sets the framework for a home to be offered as “Intermediate Housing for Rent.”
To completement the policy a bespoke “Homes for Intermediate Rent Design Standards” document has been produced to provide information on the standards expected for Intermediate Rent homes. It sets outs the essential and desirable construction, layout and facilities criteria which Intermediate Rent homes should meet, both internally and externally.
Market rent data
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive now regularly publishes a report detailing a summary of average weekly private sector market rents figures to assist with the setting of rents for Intermediate Rent properties.
This data is intended to act as a guide and Intermediate Rent landlords should seek confirmation, at the time of letting, of local average market rents for similar type / size of units from a suitably qualified professional (e.g. a RICS certified surveyor).
The Average Weekly Market Rent data is calculated based on the number of bedrooms in a property and in which of eight Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMAs) it is located. Intermediate Rent should be set with at least a 20% discount on average local market rents for a similar property type and size within an area.
Departmental support to deliver Intermediate Rent homes
The Department for Communities continues to work on complementary arrangements to help to financially support the development and letting of Intermediate Rent homes in the future.
More detail on any financial support will be available in due course.
Intermediate Rent can also be developed without Government financial support, however unfunded providers should refer to and follow the content of the policy in so doing.
Market Sounding exercise
The Department for Communities commissioned the Strategic Investment Board (SIB) to undertake a Market Sounding exercise on Intermediate Rent during Summer 2023.
This exercise sought to engage with the housing sector to obtain information to assist with the refinement of the final funding package. It will also inform any future open competition to award funding to an Intermediate Rent Operator.
If you require clarification regarding the policy intentions or wish to comment on the Design Standards document, please email the Department for Communities Intermediate Rent project team.