Around 5,000 landlords will have a registration fee refunded to them as a result of an important change to the Landlord Registration Scheme.
The change to the scheme, announced today by the Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, means that only one registration fee now needs to be paid in the case where there are joint owners of a property. Previously all owners needed to pay a fee.
Importantly however, all names of the joint owners must still be provided to the Landlord Registration Scheme.
Minister Storey said: “It was clear the issue of multiple registration fees for joint owners was a concern amongst landlords when the Landlord Registration Scheme was launched; my Department responded, and today I am announcing that not only will the policy change, but that we will soon be starting the process of issuing refunds.”
The process to identify refunds will begin immediately and should be made by March 2016.
The Minister continued: “Out of a total of over 44,000 landlords who have already registered with the scheme, approximately 8,500 have registered as joint owner landlord. It is anticipated that around 5,000 refunds will be paid as there is still a requirement that one registration fee remains payable for registration.”
Joint owners will have to agree who should receive a refund within their joint owner group.
NI Direct, on behalf of the Department for Social Development, intends to make contact with all joint owner landlords over the coming weeks. If you have been impacted you do not need to act but will be contacted in the coming weeks via text message, phone, email or letter.
The refunds process will be as follows:
· Where a contact mobile number has been provided, landlords will be contacted via text message;
· Where a landline number has been provided, landlords will be contacted by phone; and
· Where neither a mobile or landline number has been provided, landlords will be contacted by email or letter.
More information is available at the NI Direct website.
The Minister continued: “My Department will complete this process of refunds as soon as possible and all joint owner landlords will be contacted directly. There is no need to take any action at this stage.”
Notes to editors:
- A Joint Owner Landlord is one of a group of people that jointly own a property that they rent out.
- The Landlord Registration Scheme was introduced in February 2014 and aims to improve tenants’ confidence in their landlords and increase landlords’ accountability by promoting good practice and ensuring appropriate advice and assistance is available.
- When the Landlord Registration Scheme was introduced the Department for Social Development received legal advice that Joint Owner Landlords had to register separately with the scheme and each pay the registration fee. The Department has now received revised legal advice that only one fee is required but importantly all Joint Owner Landlords must continue to register. This means that those landlords who were originally required to register separately and each pay a fee may now be due a refund.
- Landlords can register at the NI Direct website, they can also register by calling 0300 200 7821. Registration costs £70 online or £80 non-electronic. The fee is applicable regardless of how many properties a landlord owns. Tenants are encouraged to look for the Landlord Registration logo and registration number when taking up a new tenancy. This will provide reassurance that their landlord has complied with the statutory requirement to register.
- Media enquiries should be directed to the DSD Press Office on 028 9082 9233 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.