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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

The Fit and Proper Person Test

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can call Landlord Advice on 028 9024 5640 and choosing option 5. Lines open Monday to Friday, from 9.30am to 2.30pm.

To ensure proper management of HMOs and the safety of HMO occupants, councils can only issue a licence where they are satisfied that the owner, and any managing agent, is a fit and proper person.

Who is subject to the test?

The council has to be satisfied that the owner of the property and any managing agent involved with the property pass the fit and proper person test.

If the property is owned by a company, or any body other than an individual, the test applies to any director, partner or any other person concerned with the management of that body or company.

What does the test involve?

When deciding if someone is fit and proper, the council must consider whether the applicant has:

  • Committed any offences relating to fraud, dishonesty, violence, drugs, human trafficking or firearms
  • Committed offences listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Practiced unlawful discrimination in carrying out business
  • Contravened any provisions in housing or tenancy law
  • Engaged in anti-social behaviour and consider how the applicant has behaved in response to anti-social behaviour engaged in by or affecting occupants of any living accommodation under his or her control
  • Acted other than in accordance with the code of practice for HMO manage

You must sign a declaration stating that you believe yourself to be a fit and proper person. Other people may make objections to your application for a HMO licence if they believe that you are not fit and proper, and the council must hear these objections.

What happens if you don’t pass this test?

Your application for a HMO license should be refused if you are found not to be a fit and proper person or if the managing agent fails to pass this test.

You can appeal the council’s decision to refuse your application. If the application was refused because the agent was found not to be a fit and proper person, you may wish to find another agent or manage the property yourself.

If the decision stands, the person who failed the test will be subject to a restricted period of one year, during which they cannot be regarded as “fit and proper”.