As part of our role as the Regional Strategic Housing Authority, we carry out a range of research across all tenures, which helps us and other policy-makers in government and across the housing sector to develop policies and strategies to support the delivery of the Programme for Government. This includes research on the private rented sector, which has grown substantially in the last two decades and plays a key role in the housing market by meeting the needs of a wide range of households in Northern Ireland. Earlier this year we commissioned an online survey of tenants living in private rented accommodation, with the aim of gathering information to help policy-makers understand, in more depth, a range of issues affecting private tenants in Northern Ireland. The survey is being carried out on our behalf by Ipsos MORI, an experienced research company with a team based in Northern Ireland. The survey got under way in November 2020, and closes at midnight on Sunday 10th January 2021.
Which private tenants are being contacted?
Ipsos MORI have emailed private tenants who were registered with TDS Northern Ireland in January 2020 and those in receipt of Housing Benefit at that time, inviting them to take part in the survey. However, the research is not limited to these tenants. If you rent from a private landlord and have not received an invitation to take part, we would still love to hear your views.
The private rented sector has grown in size and importance in recent decades, and plays a crucial role in meeting housing need in Northern Ireland. This research is being carried out to help policy-makers understand, in more depth, the issues affecting private rented sector tenants. It has been guided by a range of housing sector stakeholders and the information gathered from the survey will be used to help develop policy and practice in support of the private rented sector. In order for the research to be worthwhile, we need to hear from as many private tenants as possible.
Why is the Housing Executive contacting private tenants? Is my information safe?
The Housing Executive has a statutory responsibility to ‘regularly examine housing conditions and need’ and may ‘conduct or promote research into any matter relating to any of its functions’. In light of these responsibilities and the important role of the private rented sector in meeting housing need, we were able to request relevant data from TDSNI to use, along with relevant data from the Housing Benefit system, to enable this research. This was done through a legal data sharing agreement, which was set up between TDSNI and the Housing Executive’s Research Unit, with guidance from our Data Protection team.
Our lawful basis can be found in the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. In light of our responsibility to examine housing conditions and need and provision to undertake research into matters relating to any of the Housing Executive’s functions, the lawful basis for receiving the relevant information required for making contact with private tenants to assist this survey was Public Task. Public Task can be found in Article 6 (1)(e) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):
(1) Processing shall be lawful only if and to the extent that at least one of the following applies:
(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
Ipsos MORI is acting as a processor for the Housing Executive and is bound by a contract that covers its responsibilities under GDPR. Email addresses were provided for the sole purpose of conducting this research and neither the Housing Executive nor Ipsos MORI will use them for any other purpose.
Participation in the research is voluntary and all information provided will be confidential, anonymised for analysis, reported in aggregate and used only for this research. It will not be possible to identify any individual respondents from the findings, which will be published on our website in due course.
Thank you if you have taken the time to complete the survey. If you have chosen to, you will be entered into a prize draw for the opportunity to win one of fifty £50 gift cards. The draw will take place after 10th January 2021. If you haven’t managed to take part yet, there is still time and your opinion really counts. Use the link you received from Ipsos MORI to access the survey, which can be completed via computer, tablet or mobile phone and should take around 30 minutes. If you haven’t heard from Ipsos MORI but would like to take part, you can contact our Research Unit on firstname.lastname@example.org.