When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Help and advice for landlords

Advice for landlords
Advice for landlords

If you are a landlord or are thinking about buying a property to rent out, you should make sure that you are aware of all the laws which you must obey. Things will go much more smoothly if you keep accurate records and get to know your rights and responsibilities. Call 028 9024 5640 and choose option 5 to get advice on your rights and responsibilities as a landlord. 

A house in multiple occupation or HMO is a type of shared housing, which is subject to additional standards and requirements.

From 1 April 2019 all HMOs in Northern Ireland must be licenced. Local councils are responsible for the HMO licensing scheme.

If someone pays you rent to live in a property you own, you are a landlord. This includes if you

  • rent out your home while you travel
  • rent out rooms in your home to other people
  • rent out a property to a company who then rents it to other people

You can be fined or taken to court if you are a landlord and you don't follow certain rules. 

Rates are a property tax. The money raised in rates helps to pay for all types of public services. Land & Property Services (LPS) is the agency responsible for collecting rates. Either the tenant or the landlord may have to pay rates in rented properties.

There are a number of organisations which provide advice and support to landlord, but you will usually have to become a member to access these services. You should consider joining a professional landlords' body or taking some accredited training if you intent to become a landlord on a long term basis.

Your house needs to be up to certain standards before it can be rented out. You may need to ask the council to inspect your property and will have to abide by certain safety requirements.

As with any new business, there are a number of practical and legal considerations that you must address before you can let your property.

People who are interested in moving in to your property will probably start to contact you as soon as you've advertised the letting. An agent will usually find tenants for your property for an agreed fee, but there are some things you should consider if you decide to go it alone.

Once you've chosen your tenants, you need to draw up a tenancy agreement and provide the tenant with certain legally required documents.

Once you set up as a landlord, you have certain rights which your tenants must respect.

Renting out property is a business and you have certain responsibilities to your customers, the tenants.

You have to protect deposits in an approved scheme. You can be fined if you don't do this. You don't have to protect a deposit if the tenant paid it before 1 April 2013. 

Your tenants have a right to apply for benefits to help pay their rent. You can be sued for discrimination if you refuse to allow tenants to claim benefits. Most tenants will claim Universal Credit. Your tenants can get Housing Benefit instead if

  • they are over pension age, or
  • they are moving from another tenancy and are already getting Housing Benefit

You'll need a good process to manage repairs. Your tenancy agreement should explain how and when tenants should report repairs and how you will respond to these reports. 

As with any business, being a landlord carries risk. Keep records of any letters or messages you send to your tenants when you're trying to sort out problems. These will help if a legal dispute arises and you end up in court.

You and your tenants have to follow a certain process to end the tenancy. You can end up in court if you, or your agent, does not follow this process. 

Tenancies which meet certain criteria are known as protected tenancies. Rents for these tenancies are set and controlled by a government official. You may find it difficult to end a protected tenancy. The tenant may be able to pass on their tenancy when they die. 

Check out our downloads page for template letters to help you communicate with your tenants and some helpful flowcharts and tables, which can help you to understand your legal obligations.

Landlords can get advice, resources and training from different organisations. You may also be able to get financial help with certain types of repairs or improvements. 

Subscribe to RSS - Help and advice for landlords Subscribe to Help and advice for landlords