When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Your rights as a private tenant

All private tenants have some basic legal rights. Protected tenants have more rights than other tenants, but there are very few protected tenants in Northern Ireland.

Tenants who moved into their properties after 1 April 2007 have a few extra rights that tenants who've been living in their homes from before this date won't normally have. This includes a right to a minimum tenancy term of six months, unless a shorter term has been agreed in the written contract, and a right to have the landlord be responsible for certain repairs. 

There are certain fundamental rights which all private tenants enjoy. Your tenancy agreement may give you additional rights and responsibilities but it cannot take away your basic legal rights.

Legally, your landlord or the agent must give you a rent book. There is certain information which must be contained in this document, including your basic rights and obligations. If you don't get a rent book, you can complain to your local council.

When you rent a property it becomes your home. Your landlord must respect that the property is your home and must observe the proper legal procedures when entering the property or trying to reclaim possession of it.

All private tenants have the right to use housing benefit to help pay the rent. If you intend using housing benefit to help with your rent, make sure you know how much you are going to get. Housing benefit will not always cover your full rent.

There are default repairs which a landlord is required to carry out. Additional information about who is responsible for repairs is usually contained in your tenancy agreement.

In order to lawfully evict you, your landlord must follow the correct legal procedure. Similarly, you must follow the correct procedure if you wish to leave the property.

Your landlord has to protect your deposit within 28 days of you paying this money. They also have to give you certain information about your deposit and the company protecting it. 

Your landlord does not have to protect your deposit if you paid it before 1 April 2013. 

Not everyone who pays rent for a room or a property is a tenant. Some only have a license to remain in that property and are “licensees”. Licensees don't have as many rights as tenants and it's much easier to evict them.