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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Advice for other tenants and homeowners

Homeowners, lodgers and leaseholders
Homeowners, lodgers and leaseholders

Most people who rent their homes in Northern Ireland rent from a private landlord, the Housing Executive or a housing association.

However, there are other kinds of rental arrangements. Not everyone who pays rent is a legal tenant. You’ll have different rights depending on whether you’re a licensee, a sub-tenant or someone living on a permanent residential caravan site. Some homeowners will also have a rental agreement or lease for the land that their property sits on. 

If you live in a caravan or a mobile home that is situated on a residential site you have certain rights which are protected by law. These rights will only apply if you live in the caravan as your main home and you’ve been living on the site for at least 12 months. This law won’t protect you if your caravan is only for holidays or you live on a site that’s mainly meant for holiday usage.

Buying your own home is a huge financial commitment. It's important that you do your research and fully understand your options before you commit to anything. If you can't afford to pay the full purchase cost of a property you might be able to part buy and part rent the property with the help of Co-ownership Housing Association.

If you own your home, you bear the full responsibility when something goes wrong. Make sure you have sufficient insurance cover in place to protect your home and contents in case of strong winds, snow and ice. Making sure your home is insulated and heated can reduce the risk of water damage in your home during a bad winter.

Areas with large numbers of houses in disrepair can be vested by the government. In Northern Ireland this work is normally done by the Housing Executive. This means that owners of these properties are legally required to sell them to the Housing Executive. The Housing Executive will buy these properties at their current market value and redevelop the area for social housing.

You need both planning permission and building control approval for certain extensions and building work. For others, like a loft conversion or installing a new boiler you’ll only need building control approval.

Property sales are either on a leasehold or freehold basis. When you buy a freehold property you own the property and the land it sits on. If your property is a leasehold property you’ll have to pay an annual charge, known as ground rent, to the person who owns the freehold.

Not everyone who pays rent for a room or a property is a tenant. Some only have a license to remain in that property and are “licensees”. Licensees don't have as many rights as tenants and it's much easier to evict them.

You are usually responsible for carrying out any repairs or improvements once you have bought your home. It's very difficult to get grant approval from the Housing Executive to help you with the cost of repairs. These days, this type of grant will only be awarded if the Housing Executive believes the condition of the property is likely to cause a very real and very serious risk to the life of the person living in it.

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