All landlords in Northern Ireland must provide their details to a central database. You can search for a registered landlord by name or by the property's address. If you've gone to view a property and the landlord is not a registered landlord, this should ring alarm bells as it shows that the landlord is not complying with basic legal obligations.
Ask for the landlord's registration number
The Landlord Registration Scheme (NI) Regulations 2014 require that a landlord provides his or her registration number in any correspondence that relates to the discharge of his or her functions as a landlord. So, you should ask for this information when you first go to view a property. If the agent is unable or unwilling to provide this information, you can check the register online to make sure that the person who is renting out the property is a properly registered landlord.
Check the online database
You can find the landlord register online at the NI Direct website. You can search the database by entering the landlord's name or by entering the property's address. If your landlord has a common name or you get more than one result when you search by a name, it's probably safest to double check the address is registered too.
What if the landlord isn't registered?
The database isn't perfect, so sometimes a landlord doesn't show up even if they are fully registered. Ask the landlord or agent for evidence that the landlord has properly registered. If the landlord isn't registered, this suggests that the landlord doesn't know much about renting property in Northern Ireland, and that the agent who is marketing the property hasn't done a great job of advising the landlord.
What happens if you've already moved in?
If you find out that your landlord isn't registered after you move into the property, you should contact your local council's environmental health team to report that your landlord is not registered. The council will speak to the landlord and remind him or her of the legal obligation to register. The council can prosecute the landlord if he or she refuses to register or is a repeat offender.