Landlords in NI cream £140 million in benefits…

Or rather other people’s benefits. Sinn Fein MLA Fra McCann has claimed that “people are being forced into the arms of an unregulated private sector”.

“The buy-to-let market has grown over this past number of years and the rents set by the private rented sector by far surpass that of the Housing Executive, which is also forcing people into debt. “A review needs to be carried out to look specifically at this sector and how they set their rents.”

But, Barry Corscadden, chairman of the Landlords’ Association in Northern Ireland, argues that rental levels are market led:

“I do believe that those people who are receiving Housing Benefit are choosing the private sector more and more because it offers more choice than the social sector.”

Ah… but which market? The rental, or the buy to let market? Maybe we just are on our way to a new relationship with property? But if public money is in question, perhaps regulation of responsibilities, as well as rights, might usefully be put on the table?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty