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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Advice for landlords

If your property has a gas heating system or any gas appliances you must ensure that these are checked annually by an engineer who is listed on the Gas Safe Register. Annual checks are recorded on a log called a Gas Safety Record. You must keep these records up to date and keep them for at least 2 years.

Your tenancy agreement can give you additional rights, beyond those afforded to you in legislation. When drawing up a tenancy agreement, remember that any terms which are seen to be unfair are unenforceable.

The amount of benefits tenants get towards rent will not always match up to the amount of rent you charge. Instead, the amount of benefit paid depends on the size of the claimant's household, their personal circumstances and the area in which they live.

If your tenants have left the property owing you arrears or have caused substantial damage in the property you can take court action against them. If they owe less than £3000 you can take a case in the Small Claims Court where you will not need a solicitor. Your tenants may also make a small claim against you if they feel you have unfairly kept their deposit.

People who are interested in moving in to your property will probably start to contact you as soon as you've advertised the letting. An agent will usually find tenants for your property for an agreed fee, but there are some things you should consider if you decide to go it alone.

There are some essential documents that you must have in order to rent out a property. These include a Fitness Certificate (in some cases), Energy Performance Certificate and a Gas Safety Certificate if there is gas heating or there are any gas appliances in the property.

You must supply all tenants with certain information relating to their tenancy. Failure to supply these documents, in the correct format, within a specified period of time can result in a conviction and fine.

Generally, you will be liable for any repairs to the structure of the property and furnishings which were supplied with the letting and the tenants will be liable for repairs to their own items or for repairing any damage which is their fault. You should specify repairing obligations in your tenancy agreement.

There are a list of criteria that a tenancy must satisfy in order to be protected. The first of these is that the tenancy must have existed before 1 April 2007. No new protected tenancies can be created after this date, but the Rent Officer may still declare that tenancies which were in place before April 2007 are protected by law.

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