Social housing

This page contains information on specially commissioned professional and academic reports into various aspects of social housing policy and practice.

Improving Rent Arrears Collection 

Rent arrears owed to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive totalled £12.2 million in 2017/18 and the organisation devotes substantial time and resources each year to collecting arrears and managing tenants who accumulate them. The process of managing long term arrears through to eviction is costly and difficult; the Housing Executive would prefer to help households sustain their tenancies rather than be forced to seek evictions.

The Housing Executive worked with the Department of Finance’s Innovation Lab (iLab) on a trial to test the efficacy of the standard ‘LT1A’ arrears letter against sending no letter out. The iLab then conducted a second trial sending an improved arrears letter, sending a text, sending the letter and a text or sending nothing to tenants with arrears.

The Housing Executive Research Unit suggested carrying out qualitative research to enrich understanding of the results of the second trial and to inform development of future trials. The Housing Executive Research Unit carried out 19 qualitative interviews in August and September 2019. This project was led by the iLab and the qualitative findings from this research inform a broader project. The link to the full report will be made available here when it is published shortly by the iLab.

Improving Rent Arrears Collection (PDF 7 MB)

House Sales Scheme: Outcomes and Experiences 1979-2019

The research summarised in this report was undertaken to provide updated evidence on some of the impacts and outcomes of the Housing Executive’s House Sales Scheme over a period of almost four decades. As well as providing an overview of the wider context, recent policy developments and other research evidence on House Sales/Right to Buy schemes, this report summarises the findings of a survey conducted by Perceptive Insight Market Research Ltd for the Housing Executive among a sample of residents living in properties across Northern Ireland that had been sold to tenants during the life of the Housing Executive’s House Sales Scheme up to November 2018.

Designing for Life: new social housing in Northern Ireland post-occupancy survey (2018)

In 2018 the Housing Executive, in partnership with the Department for Communities (DFC) commissioned Perceptive Insight Market Research to undertake a post occupancy survey of housing association (HA) tenants to obtain feedback on the quality and design of new homes funded through the Social Housing Development Programme (SHDP) that were completed between 1st April 2015 and 31st March 2016.

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A review of the Affordability of Social Rents in Northern Ireland (2017)

  • This study was commissioned in 2016 by the Housing Executive on behalf of the Department for Communities to inform the Social Housing Reform Programme.

  • It considered the possible impacts of a gradual rise in Housing Executive rents in the context of a more transparent and equitable system of rents for social tenants, which would also help sustain the financial viability of social landlords.

  • It should be noted that the analysis was completed before the UK Government’s decision in October 2017 that Local Housing Allowance rates would not be applied to social and supported housing from April 2019, as had previously been proposed.

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Tenant Involvement in Governance: Models and Practices (2017)

The Housing Executive commissioned the University of Birmingham to review approaches to tenant involvement in the governance of social housing organisations in Northern Ireland and explore the relevance of international models and practices for the region.  

The research involved interviews, an evidence review, case studies, and a number of consultation workshops, and this comprehensive final report details the findings of each stage of the project.

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The Business Benefits of the Housing Executive’s Community Involvement Activities (2017)

The Housing Executive commissioned the University of Westminster to carry out research on the business benefits to the organisation of community involvement activity, with particular reference to issues such as tenant satisfaction levels, expenditure, service delivery and value for money.

The findings of this mixed qualitative and quantitative study showed that investment in community involvement had benefitted the Housing Executive by helping the organisation to identify needs, improve services, reduce costs and develop communities.

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Assessment of the need for furniture provision for new Housing Executive tenants (March 2016)

This research, carried out by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University and the Council for the Homeless Northern Ireland (CHNI), assessed the need for the provision of furniture as a means of assisting new tenants to sustain tenancies.

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Funding Mechanisms for New Social Housing in Northern Ireland: A UK-wide Comparative Study (November 2015)

This research was undertaken to provide a comparative understanding of how rates of Government funding for the provision of new social or affordable housing are set across the United Kingdom and how applicable these are in the context of Northern Ireland.

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Third Sector Housing Partnerships in Northern Ireland (June 2013)

This report was the result of a three-year collaboration between the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham, the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast and the Institute for Research in Social Sciences at University of Ulster.

The research used case studies of two social housing Procurement Groups and two Supporting People partnerships (community based schemes with mental health and homeless service users) to look at partnership structures, drivers and barriers, processes, impacts and learning from partnership working.

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Review of Social Rent Setting in Northern Ireland (February 2013)

This report, produced by a team from Newhaven Research, the University of Glasgow, University of York and University College Dublin, explores the pattern of rents in the social housing sector in Northern Ireland and considers the scope for the development and implementation of a harmonised rent-setting regime.  

The study, which was commissioned by the Housing Executive on behalf of the Department for Social Development, aimed to inform policy development by updating a project carried out in 2007.

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