Mr Durkan said the protection was needed now more than ever given the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and continued pressures on the housing sector.
Speaking in the Assembly on the Second Stage of the Private Tenancies Bill, the Foyle MLA said: “The past 18 months have underscored the value of housing and the central role that it plays for all of us.
“It is the starting point from which people and families build their lives; making for happy, thriving communities.
“It’s essential therefore that action is taken to ensure all types of tenancies are protected.
“The Private Rented Sector across these islands has grown exponentially in recent years with the North experiencing the greatest level growth.
“To date there has been no specific legislation in place to protect private renters, many of whom have been pushed into the sector given the lack of social housing stock.
“The bulk of the Private Rented Sector consists of young families mostly lone parent households.
“Having spoken with Housing Rights in recent weeks, they have attested to the fact that a disproportionate number of calls to their helpline is from private renters experiencing housing stress.
“And while I welcome emergency housing legislation introduced by the Minister, it’s clear that such provisions must be made permanent.
“Protections such as this will play an important role in the months ahead as the economic fallout of the pandemic unfolds and we come to terms with the pressures being placed on an already struggling sector.
“This is a much-needed piece of legislation- not before time, affording individuals and families who rent privately with safeguards and security of tenure.
“It will provide a first step of many needed to improve the safety, security and overall quality within the Private Rented Sector.
“I look forward to informing the progress of this vital piece of work.”Tags: