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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Private tenant

You should give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to carry out repairs. If you are having difficulty contacting your landlord or your landlord has refused to carry out essential repairs you may be able to get help from your local council.

The Rent Officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for setting rents on rent controlled and protected tenancies. If your landlord is charging more than the Rent Officer has allowed, you could be entitled to have this money back.

The amount of housing benefit you’ll get to help with your rent depends on your personal circumstances. There are different systems for calculating housing benefit for private tenants and for housing association or Housing Executive tenants.

Tenancy agreements are a legal contract. Make sure you read the agreement before you sign it. Here are some issues your tenancy agreement should deal with.

A shared property that is a HMO has to meet certain standards in order to get its HMO license.

If you share with other people, but the property isn’t regarded as a HMO your property just has to meet the basic fitness standard that applies to all rented housing.

You may be asked to pay fees before you can take on a tenancy. These fees could be illegal if they are charged by a letting agent and cover services that benefit the landlord. If you decide to pay these fees, make sure you get a receipt. You may be able to claim the money back. 

You need to know whether you are going to be a tenant who will be protected in law or a licensee who has very few rights in law. It's important that you understand your legal status in your new home.

Most tenancy agreements specify a term of 12 months. However, if no specific term is mentioned, a default term of 6 months will apply. If you've applied for social housing and are waiting for an offer from the Housing Executive you should try to negotiate a term of 6 months or less, if possible, as you could still be held liable for rent in your privately rented property once you move into a social tenancy.

Get advice as soon as possible if you can't pay. The Land & Property Services have a strict procedure for recovering rates arrears. There are strict time limits. If you contact your local Land & Property Services office, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan.

People have a variety of reasons for renting shared accommodation. You may not be able to afford a home of your own, due to benefit restrictions or general affordability issues or you may not want to live alone.

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