When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Getting an offer of housing

You are entitled to two reasonable offers of accommodation. When you get an offer you'll have an opportunity to view the property. Your offer letter should explain how much you'll have to pay for the property.

Changes to how social landlords offer properties

From 30 January 2023, people applying for social housing are entitled to two reasonable offers of accommodation. Before this date, applicants were entitled to three reasonable offers.

What these changes mean for new and current applicants

You’ll get two reasonable offers of accommodation if you:

  • apply for social housing from 30 January 2023, or
  • applied before 30 January 2023 but have not had any reasonable offers yet

You’ll get one reasonable offer of accommodation if you applied for social housing before 30 January 2023 and you've:

  • already turned down one reasonable offer, or
  • already turned down two reasonable offers

These changes are part of the Fundamental Review of Allocations. Visit the Housing Executive’s website for more information. Contact the Housing Executive if you're not sure about how many offers you'll get. 

Viewing the property

You should view any property before you decide to take it. If you're happy with the property you need to formally accept it.  

Check the decoration of the property to see how much you may have to pay to bring the property up to your standards. The Housing Executive or housing association only has to provide floor coverings in the bathroom and kitchen.  You may have to budget for floor coverings, curtains, furniture and white goods for your new home. 

Condition of the property

Social landlords, like the Housing Executive and housing associations, have to do make sure that a property is in a decent and safe condition for you moving in. They should make sure that:

  • all roofs, gutters, windows, doors and external joinery is in good condition and weather proof
  • security locks work properly
  • the electricty, water and heating systems have been inspected
  • roomheaters and flues have been tested
  • any gas heating systems are inspected
  • smoke alarms are tested
  • all internal doors are in good condition and close properly
  • kitchen units, doors and cupboards fit properly
  • bathroom fittings are complete, clean and free from cracks
  • any cracked tiles are replaced and regrouted
  • mould and fungus is removed from walls and all walls and celings are free from holes

Multiple offers

You might receive a multiple offer.  This happens when the Housing Executive or housing association offers a property to more than one person.  You can go look at this property or tell the landlord that you're not interested.  This type of offer will only count as one of your two reasonable offers if:

  • you tell the landlord that you want to take the property, and
  • the landlord then makes you a formal offer of the property

If more than one person wants to take the property, the landlord has to give it to the person who is highest on the waiting list for that type of property. 

Making your decision

You will usually be given two or three working days to make a decision. The Housing Executive or housing association will assume that you have refused the offer if you don't reply within two or three days of receiving the offer.

If you are an applicant with complex needs you will usually be given more time to make your decision.

Refusing an offer

You are entitled to two reasonable offers of accommodation. If you think an offer isn't reasonable you can challenge the decision. If the Housing Executive believes that it is a reasonable offer and your challenge fails, the property will count as one of your two offers.

If you refuse two reasonable offers you won't be offered any other properties for at least 12 months and you will lose:

You may be entitled to one more offer of accommodation during this 12 month period if something changes in your housing circumstances and you are made homeless from a new address.  You'll only be entitled to one more offer if you pass the 4 homelessness tests again

Accepting the tenancy

Once you accept the offer you must sign up to become a tenant. This means that you must sign an acceptance slip with:

  • your name
  • the address of your new accommodation
  • the date your tenancy starts

The Housing Executive should give you a copy of the acceptance slip after your sign it. You will need the acceptance slip when dealing with your electricity provider. You should also be given a tenant's handbook and information about how to get help to pay your rent if you need to apply for benefits.

Withdrawing an offer

In certain situations, social landlords can withdraw an offer of accommodation.

The Housing Executive and housing associations must withdraw an offer if you are no longer eligible:

The Housing Executive and housing associations might withdraw an offer if:

  • you do not meet the conditions of the offer letter
  • you're not able to take up the tenancy within a reasonable period of time
  • you, or a member of your household, would be at significant risk in the area
  • they made a mistake in offering you the property
  • the offer is no longer a 'reasonable' offer

A social landlord will write to you if they decide to withdraw an offer of accommodation. If you do not agree with the decision, you can make a complaint. You have seven days from the date of the decision to withdraw the offer to complain. 

Speak to an adviser if you think a landlord should not have withdrawn your offer of accommodation.