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.
When you check by address, the database won't tell you who the landlord is, but it will tell you if a registered landlord owns this property. If you get a message saying "A registered landlord has not added this property to their Landlord Registration Scheme property portfolio", it might be time to look for another property. The landlord's failure to register indicates that he or she doesn't know much about tenancy law in Northern Ireland and could suggest that the landlord is either an amateur, who just doesn't know any better, or that the landlord has deliberately failed to register.
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.