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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Legal rights of housing association tenants

Housing association tenants living in Northern Ireland have certain rights. Your rights depend on whether you are

  • an introductory tenant, or
  • a secure tenant.

Introductory tenancies in Northern Ireland

An introductory tenancy is like a trial period for your tenancy. You become a secure tenant after 12 months as long as you've stuck to your tenancy agreement.

You won't be an introductory tenant if

  • you transfer or swap from another social property to your current home, and
  • you were a secure tenant in your former home.

Introductory tenants cannot

  • apply for a transfer
  • exchange their homes
  • buy their home

Your right to stay in your home

Your landlord has to follow a certain process to evict you. The process is different for introductory tenants and for secure tenants.

Your landlord can start the process to evict you if it has a legal reason to do so, such as if

  • you owe rent
  • you've been involved in antisocial behaviour
  • you've neglected your property

It is easier for your landlord to evict you if you are an introductory tenant. It's important to get help as soon as they say you have to leave.

Get advice if your landlord is trying to evict you.

Your right to pass your home on

You can, in certain circumstances,

There are strict rules about when you can pass on a tenancy. Get advice if you want to talk about these.

Your right to have a lodger

You can rent out parts of your home to someone else if you are a secure tenant. The money you get from doing this can

  • increase how much tax you pay (if it is more than £7,500)
  • reduce how much you get in benefits.

You can't move out and rent the whole property to someone else.

You cannot rent any rooms in your home if you are an introductory tenant.

Transferring or swapping your home

If you are a secure tenant you can

You cannot swap your home if you are an introductory tenant.

You can only apply for a transfer as an introductory tenant if

  • you have homeless points, or
  • your housing officer thinks you need a transfer for health and wellbeing reasons.

Get advice if you are an introductory tenant who needs to move home.

Right to improve your home

You can improve your home if you are a secure tenant. You must get written permission from your landlord before you make any changes. You will be responsible for fixing problems caused by any change you've made.

Your landlord might compensate you for big improvements when you move out.

Introductory tenants are not allowed to improve their homes. You can decorate your home, but you can't make big changes to it.

Right to buy in Northern Ireland

You can apply to buy your housing association home if you’ve been a tenant for 5 years or more.

The right to buy will end for housing association tenants in August 2022.

Right to repair

If you are a secure tenant you have a right to repair. This means you can get compensation if your landlord does not do urgent or emergency repairs.

The right to repair only applies to

  • things that your landlord should repairs
  • repairs that would cost less than £250 to fix.

Get advice if your landlord isn't fixing problems in your home.