NIFHA has responded to the Rates Rethink Consultation issued by the Department of Finance. The NIFHA response to this consultation has focused on the aspects that are relevant to the housing association sector.
In the consultation response NIFHA has made the following key points.
- NIFHA strongly disagree with proposals to reduce the landlord allowance from 10% to 5%.
- Housing associations provide Land and Property Services (LPS) with a guaranteed rate payment whilst holding the risk for voids and arrears.
- Housing associations carry the administrative burden for the collection of rates from approximately 40,000 properties.
- As a result of welfare reform, it is likely that the exposure experienced by housing associations to arrears will increase.
- Any changes to landlord allowances should be based upon clear evidence.
- NIFHA would welcome an opportunity to consider landlord liability within this wider review of the rates system and ask the question whether it is still appropriate in the context of welfare changes.
- Empty Property Rates: land that has been purchased by a housing association for the development of new social and affordable homes in line with its charitable purpose should be exempt from rates liability.
- We agree with measures to encourage energy efficiency of homes. However, this should not be limited to new build properties and should not automatically preclude the social rented sector.
- We agree with measures to encourage town centre living. However, how this is stimulated through the rates system needs further clarity and consideration.
To read NIFHA’s full response, click here.