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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Private tenant

Moving house is a stressful experience. Being well organised can help to minimise the difficulties you may encounter.

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you are of pension age or if you are living in certain types of housing, such as supported housing or temporary housing. Most people who need to make a new claim for help to pay rent will have to claim Universal Credit. 

Sharing arrangements don't always work out. If you're having problems with the people you're sharing with, don't ignore the issue. Try to resolve the situation. If you've signed a tenancy agreement, it will be difficult to leave the property before it has lapsed.

In recent years, some tenants have experienced serious problems in their properties due to extreme frost, wind and snow. There are certain actions you can take to minimise the risks to both you and your property if bad weather has been predicted.

You'll need to negotiate with your landlord to try to get your money back. Any negotiating should be done in writing and you need to keep copies of any emails or letters you send. If you're not able to agree with your landlord, you can go to Small Claims Court to see if a judge thinks you should get your money back.

Talk to the landlord about why you want to leave the property. Your landlord might be understanding about your problems and agree to allow you to leave the property before the contract ends.  You might be able to negotiate an early release if you agree to certain conditions.  These could include

If your shared property is a HMO and you are worried about conditions in the property, you can ask the council’s HMO team to check for hazards.

You must pay rent to your landlord in return for living in the property. If you stop paying your rent, are late with a payment or do not pay in full, your landlord may begin eviction proceedings against you.

You'll usually have to pay out quite a bit of money when you first move in. Most landlords will expect a month's rent as a security deposit and insist on rent being paid in advance. If you're on a low income, you may be entitled to housing benefit to help you meet the cost of your rent, but this is always paid in arrears. Make sure you get receipts for any money you pay out and keep these safe.

You should apply for help to pay your rent if you are on a low income or are struggling. For most people, this means claiming Universal Credit. Claim Housing Benefit instead if

  • you are a pensioner or
  • you live in supported or temporary housing. 

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