A licensing system for private landlords and letting agents is the way forward for the Northern Ireland rental sector according to the Chartered Institute of Housing.
A recent poll shows the overwhelming majority of CIH members in Northern Ireland are in favour of the move.
"There are more people living in the private rented sector locally - nearly one in five households - than in social housing and demand is rising. We need to ensure that every tenant has a good quality home which is professionally managed and education has an important role in helping to achieve this” says CIH director for Northern Ireland Nicola McCrudden.
"The private rented sector is becoming a longer-term option for people of all ages. While standards are generally good it’s not the case throughout the sector and we are still seeing tenants at the lower end of the market living in unsatisfactory conditions” she says.
The Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland is undertaking a review of the role and regulation of the private rented sector.
“We will be pushing for the licensing of private landlords and letting agents with a strong emphasis on education to build on professional and well-managed private rented housing for all tenants" says McCrudden.
In a recent CIH poll, Northern Ireland members were asked for their views on whether landlords should be licensed to make the private rented sector a more attractive housing option.
Eighty-three per cent of respondents said that landlords should be licensed - although the CIH Northern Ireland membership includes people who work in both social and private rented housing.