Committee for Communities 30 November 2021

Minutes of Proceedings

Committee for Communities

Minutes of Proceedings

Tuesday 30 November 2021

Meeting Location: Room 30, Parliament Buildings, Belfast


Ms Paula Bradley MLA (Chairperson)
Ms Kellie Armstrong MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Andy Allen MLA
Mr Mark Durkan MLA
Mr Paul Frew MLA

Present by Video or Teleconference:

Ms Áine Murphy MLA
Ms Aisling Reilly MLA


Mr Stephen Dunne MLA
Ms Ciara Ferguson MLA

In Attendance:       

Dr Janice Thompson (Assembly Clerk)
Mr Sean McCann (Assistant Clerk)
Ms Rachel Ashe (Clerical Supervisor)

In Attendance by Video or Teleconference:

Ms Antoinette Bowen (Clerical Officer)

The Chairperson, Paula Bradley, assumed the Chair. The meeting began at 9.13 am in open session. The following Members were present at the start of the open session: Paula Bradley, Kellie Armstrong, Andy Allen, Mark Durkan, Paul Frew and Aisling Reilly.

Declaration of Interests:

Andy Allen declared an interest as a private landlord.

Paul Frew declared an interest as a private landlord and as a qualified electrician.

1.    Apologies

Stephen Dunne and Ciara Ferguson.

2.    Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 23 November 2021.

3.    Committee Deliberations on the Private Tenancies Bill

The Chairperson informed Members that the Committee would continue its deliberations on the Private Tenancies Bill, recommencing at Clause 6 where the Committee had concluded deliberations at their previous meeting on Thursday 25 November.

The Chairperson reminded Members that this was not the formal Clause by Clause stage, but rather an opportunity for Members to discuss Clauses comprehensively with Officials.

The Chairperson welcomed the following Departmental Officials to the meeting:

David Polley
Eilish O’Neill
Karen Barr

Clause 6. Certain offences in connection with tenancy deposits to be continuing offences

After clarification was given by the Officials on a number of queries regarding the need for this Clause to solve a problem that can exist for some tenants, the Committee did not raise any issues on this clause.

Clause 7. Restriction on rent increases

After clarification was given by the Officials on a number of queries and highlighted the future work to be done by the Department on Fair Rents for all, the Committee did not raise any issues on this clause.

Áine Murphy joined the meeting at 9.22 am

Clause 8. Fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide alarms, etc.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Departments of Health and Finance regarding communal areas, such as hallways, within a block of apartments where the building may contain multiple privately let dwellings. The Committee would like to know who has the obligation in law to install and maintain fire, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in these areas, considering landlords are required to ensure safe access and egress from the properties they own and will the Private Tenancies Bill as drafted legislate for this?

The Department agreed to consider inclusion of responsibilities of tenants and landlords in connection with this Clause in guidance and in the proposed model tenancy agreement template.

Clause 9. Energy efficiency regulations

There was much discussion on various implications of the regulations relating to this Clause and the potential costs for landlords. The Department confirmed that the regulations would be taken forward in line with the Department for the Economy Energy Strategy and that they would be carefully considered and widely consulted on. The Committee did not raise any specific issues on this clause.

Clause 10. Electrical safety standards regulations

There was much discussion on the potential frequency and scope of fixed wire electrical testing and the difficulty of extending to PAT testing of portable appliances owned by tenants.  The Committee raised the issue of the frequency of tests to be considered further by the Department and that the portable appliance issue could potentially be dealt with through the model tenancy agreement. on this clause.

Clause 11. Validity requirements for notices to quit given by landlords and tenants

The Committee was informed by Officials that the Minister planned to imminently launch a consultation on the timescale for the notice to quit period. Members expressed concern that the Committee will be reporting on this clause before they are aware of the outcome of this consultation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek advice from the Bill Office on this issue at its meeting on 2 December 2021.

Aisling Reilly left the meeting at 10.27 am.

Áine Murphy left the meeting at 10.32 am.

Clause 12. Interpretation

The Committee did not raise any issues on this clause.

Andy Allen left the meeting at 10.52 am.

Clause 13. Commencement

The Committee raised the issue of the costs of enforcement of the new duties would fall to councils who may be under resourced to deal with this.

Clause 14. Short title

The Committee did not raise any issues on this clause.


The Chair requested that the Department respond on a number of issues raised in its evidence regarding the offences and penalties created by the Bill.

The Chairperson thanked the Officials for their attendance.

4.    Date, time and location of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 2 December 2021 in Room 29, Parliament Buildings, at 9.00 am.

The meeting was adjourned at 11.01 am.

Paula Bradley MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Communities