Northern Ireland Regional Meetings

Jamie McDonald

Representative: Mr Jamie MacDonald

  • Belfast - Tuesday 29th October 2019 11:00 - 15:00
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Jamie MacDonald

April 2019

Northern Ireland holds the ignominious title for the country with no government in power for the longest period in peacetime, just recently marking its second anniversary of no government in Stormont.

What this means for the letting industry is legislative stagnation, with the region falling further and further behind the rest of the UK in terms of regulation, whether you consider that a good or bad thing. The danger in falling so far behind is that when the government does finally take up its seat of power, there will be the temptation to make huge sweeping changes to the sector as a sort of desperate ‘catch up’ with the rest of the UK. The problem with a vacuum of power is that lobbying groups often dictate the agenda in the interim, which can set the direction of travel down a road that isn’t based on empirical evidence.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. I have seen some positive noises coming from the civil service in NI, with several stakeholder meetings in the past couple of months looking into alternative dispute resolution services in the letting sector, housing policy research, and the need to identify gaps in local research upon which to base housing policy.

On the other side of the spectrum from this objective and reasoned approach, there have been reports of several lobbying groups being set up in the wake of a court case which found the charging of fees to tenants to be unlawful in certain circumstances. These groups have been militant in their approach to letting agents still charging fees, with picketing outside agents’ offices and trial by social media. We must hope that in the vacuum of power, the reasoned and empirical voice, rather than the voice that shouts loudest, will prevail.

Jamie MacDonald MARLA
ARLA Propertymark Regional Representative

South West

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