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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Advice for landlords

A shared property that is a HMO has to meet certain standards in order to get its HMO licence. A set of regulations explains the standards in detail. The standards are broken down into different areas.

There are a number of things you must consider before deciding to become a landlord. There can be a lot of initial expenditure and you will need to be able to dedicate a certain amount of time to your new business.

As a landlord, you are free to let your property to anyone you wish. However, there are laws which prevent you from discriminating against potential tenants because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability. You must make sure that you treat all applicants in the same manner.

If you use the insurance based scheme you'll be able to hold on to the deposit but will have to pay a fee to the scheme administrator. You will also be subject to strict time limits for registering the deposit and giving prescribed information to the scheme administrator and the tenant. Like the custodial scheme penalties will apply if you fail to act within the required timeframe. Find out more about the requirements of the Insurance based Scheme.

If your property is severely damaged, in a storm or flood, it may not be reasonable for your tenants to continue living there. These situations can be difficult to resolve legally, so it's best to negotiate with your tenants to try to come to a satisfactory solution.

The council has a number of enforcement tools available to deal with problems in HMOs. As well as a system of fixed penalty notices, the council can serve certain statutory notices on a HMO owner or manager. 

Landlords may be worried that they could get into trouble if they rent to people who don't have permission to live in the UK. This is because of a law that applies in England and which is often referred to as "right to rent checks". But these checks don't apply to tenancies in Northern Ireland.

If you don't have much time to dedicate to managing your rental properties and the needs of your tenants, you may wish to hire an agent to do this for you. Even if you hire an agent, your tenant must still have access to your name, address and telephone number.

Some landlords will ask tenants to supply a reference. If the tenant can't provide a reference, landlords may ask for a guarantor. If you decide to ask tenants to undergo a credit check you can ask them to pay the cost of this. However, you cannot charge tenants excessive fees for this service. You cannot carry out a credit check without the tenant's consent.

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