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.

Anyone who receives payment to allow someone to live in a property owned by them is a landlord. Even if you're just letting your home to a friend while you travel, you need to comply with the laws surrounding renting. If you are thinking about becoming a landlord, it's important that you become familiar with your legal obligations and understand how much work is involved.

It's important that you keep up to date with changes in housing legislation, policy and practice to make sure that you are operating within the law. You may wish to consider taking part in an accredited training programme or joining a professional body. This type of training and support could help you deal with any problems that arise with your tenants and help you manage your properties effectively.

All landlords in Northern Ireland have to submit their details to a central register. Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation also need to register with the Housing Executive. Landlords should also consider joining an organisation that can provide professional support and advice to landlords.

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.

Any deposits taken on or after 1 April 2013 must be registered with an authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme administrator. Deposits taken before that date don't need to be registered with one of these schemes.

Rates can cause a huge headache for landlords and tenants. Make sure you understand who is responsible for paying these from the outset.

All tenants have a legal right to apply for housing benefit to help them with their housing costs. You should get to know how housing benefit is calculated and paid.

Dealing with requests for repairs is an essential part of your landlord business. Having a process in place to systematically deal with these requests will make things easier on both you and your tenants.

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.

There is a set legal process for ending a tenancy which can only be bypassed with the written agreement of both you and the tenant. Make sure you follow the law carefully if you have decided to evict a tenant.

Tenancies which meet certain criteria are known as protected tenancies. The tenants who live in these tenancies have greater rights and rents for these tenancies are set by the Rent Officer, rather than the individual landlord.

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.

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