Almost everyone who lives in a property in Northern Ireland has to pay rates. Rates pay for services throughout Northern Ireland; like schools, hospitals and roads; and for services in your local area; like bin collection, parks and leisure centres. The amount you pay depends on the value of your property and which council area it is in. You can get help to pay your rates if you're on a low income or receiving certain benefits.
Buying your own home is a huge financial commitment. It's important that you do your research and fully understand your options before you commit to anything. If you can't afford to pay the full purchase cost of a property you might be able to part buy and part rent the property with the help of Co-ownership Housing Association.
Things can go wrong with your housing benefit claim. If you were getting Housing Benefit when you shouldn’t have been, you’ll have to pay this money back. You could also have problems if you have to pay rent on two homes for a while or have to leave your home temporarily.
Your landlord can only end your tenancy by following the correct process. Secure Housing Executive and housing association tenants can only be evicted if a court believes that they have broken the tenancy agreements. It's easier for a landlord to evict an introductory tenant, but the landlord still has to get a court order. Think carefully and get advice before you take any action to end your tenancy. It can be difficult to get a new social tenancy if you've given one up.
Areas with large numbers of houses in disrepair can be vested by the government. In Northern Ireland this work is normally done by the Housing Executive. This means that owners of these properties are legally required to sell them to the Housing Executive. The Housing Executive will buy these properties at their current market value and redevelop the area for social housing.
Because of the shortage of social housing some people will wait a very long time before they get offered a property. You could have a long wait, even if you passed the 4 homeless tests and are legally homeless.
You’ll be responsible for dealing with many of the repairing issues in your home. Tenants are responsible for decorating the inside of the property, including carpeting and flooring and you’ll also be responsible for looking after your garden. Your landlord will usually deal with any structural problems or faults with the heating, plumbing and electrical systems.
An area scheduled for redevelopment can contain properties owned privately or properties owned by housing associations or the Housing Executive. At least one third of the properties in a redevelopment area must be considered to be unfit for human habitation.