When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Advice for private tenants

Advice for private tenants
Advice for private tenants

Whether you've lived in the private rented sector for a long time or are considering moving into a rented home, you have certain rights which are protected by law.

It's important to know, not just your rights as a tenant, but also your responsibilities. If you're a landlord, renting out your property to tenants, make sure you know your rights and responsibilities too. 

Once you sign a tenancy agreement, you will usually be expected to keep to the conditions of the agreement until it ends. It's important that you check a few things out before you sign and don't let yourself be rushed into anything.

Most landlords will ask for a security deposit from each tenant in a property. This money is used as insurance against any damage you may cause or rent you may owe at the end of the tenancy. Any deposit paid on or after 1 April 2013 has to be placed in a tenancy deposit protection scheme.

Once you've found somewhere you'd like to live and have agreed the terms with your landlord or agent you can start making plans to move in.

All private tenants have some basic legal rights. Your other rights can depend on when your tenancy started and what your tenancy agreement says.

It's important to be aware of your responsibilities to your landlord. While many of these responsibilities will be explained in your tenancy agreement, there are also certain responsibilities which are outlined in law.

You must pay rent to your landlord in return for living in the property. If you stop paying your rent, are late with a payment or do not pay in full, your landlord may begin eviction proceedings against you.

You should report any damage or disrepair to your landlord immediately. It's always a good idea to follow up any reports you make over the phone or in person with a letter so both you and your landlord have a record of any work that needs to be done.

Sharing a rented home can work out really well. It makes things a lot cheaper, but can also bring its own problems.

Your landlord may try to force you to move out by harassing you. Your landlord may be doing this so he or she won't have to follow the proper procedure for evicting you. Harassing a tenant is a criminal offence and your landlord could be prosecuted by the local council for trying to force you to leave the property.

Landlords in Northern Ireland are not obliged to give tenants a tenancy agreement. However, it’s a good idea to ask for a written tenancy agreement so both you and your landlord fully understand your obligations and your rights. A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract. Once you have signed this document, you have committed to pay the rent for the full term of the contract.

Renting privately can be a great option. You have much more choice about the type and location of property you end up living in. However, we get a lot of calls from people who have had problems in their privately rented home. Whether you've rented before or you're a private renting novice, check out our top tips to make sure your experience is a positive one.

Talk to the landlord about why you want to leave the property. Your landlord might be understanding about your problems and agree to allow you to leave the property before the contract ends.  You might be able to negotiate an early release if you agree to certain conditions.  These could include

Renting privately can be a great option for many people. There is a wide range of rented property available. Make sure you know what type of property you need and what area you would like to live in.

You may encounter an unexpected problem when you're renting property. Housing Rights can provide you with information and advice on most housing problems.

There are a range of organisations which provide advice, guidance and assistance on matters which affect private tenants. If you're experiencing a problem in your rented accommodation, it's essential that you get advice.

Some people enjoy getting involved in their neighbourhood. You might want to join a residents association or community group or even set one up if you think it would improve the area.

Protected tenancies are a type of rent-controlled tenancy. You could be a protected tenant and not be aware of this fact. If you are a protected tenant, the amount of rent that your landlord can legally charge you is restricted.

There are certain steps you need to take to end your tenancy. It can be difficult to get out of a tenancy before the expiry date, even if you have a valid reason for wanting out.

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