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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Private tenant

Get advice if you are worried about problems in shared housing. If your property is a HMO, the council’s HMO unit may be able to help you.

Talk to your landlord or agent about any concerns you may have. 

 

Once you've found somewhere you'd like to live and have agreed the terms with your landlord or agent you can start making plans to move in.

Legally, your landlord or the agent must give you a rent book. There is certain information which must be contained in this document, including your basic rights and obligations. If you don't get a rent book, you can complain to your local council.

You can get help to pay your rent if you are a private renter and have a low income. 

If you are claiming help for the first time you should claim

  • housing benefit if you are over pension age, or
  • Universal Credit if you are under pension age.

Sorting out the practical arrangements at the beginning of a tenancy can prevent disputes arising later on. Once you've signed a tenancy agreement you've committed to living with your flatmates for a defined period of time. It's worth agreeing how you're going to sort out chores and bills and laying down some ground rules.

Your landlord must follow the correct legal procedure in order to evict you. On rare occasions, a landlord may try to force you out of the property or change the locks while you are out. This is an illegal eviction and your landlord can be prosecuted for this action.

You normally have to be living in a property in order to claim and receive housing benefit. However, in certain circumstances you may be able to claim for a property that you're not actually living in. The length of time that you can claim for depends on why you can't live in the property.

You may be able to end your tenancy early if the contract includes a break clause.  These are rare and may come with conditions attached.  Check your tenancy agreement carefully to see if it allows you to leave before the end date.

All private tenants have some basic legal rights. Your other rights can depend on when your tenancy started and what your tenancy agreement says.

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