Landlords or agents usually ask tenants to pay rent at the beginning of every month. When taking up a new tenancy, this means the first month's rent will have to be paid in addition to the deposit.
In many cases, the amounts of money involved are substantial, but in some circumstances you may be entitled to get help with these costs by applying to the discretionary social fund or deposit schemes. An adviser can help you determine if you are eligible for assistance.
What is rent?
Rent is money paid by tenants to landlords in return for living in a property. You agree how much rent you will pay when you move in.
Most tenants pay their rent every week or every month, although it can be paid at other intervals if such agreement is made with the landlord.
How much do I have to pay?
There are no rules limiting the amount of rent you can be charged by a private landlord, so the amount depends on your tenancy agreement. Most tenancy agreements also state the day that rent has to be paid.
Your landlord can also increase your rent at any time if you agree to it. If you don't have a tenancy agreement, your landlord can increase your rent by giving you four weeks' notice. If you have a tenancy agreement, your landlord can only increase the rent at the end of the agreement.
Who has to pay rent?
You will have to pay all the rent if you are the only person who signed the tenancy agreement. If you share your accommodation, you could split the total rent and only pay your share. However, you will have to pay all the rent if other people don't pay their share.
If you signed the tenancy agreement with other people, you are all responsible for paying the rent. If one of you does not pay, the others are responsible for paying that person's share of the rent.
What if I can’t afford it?
If you don't pay your rent, you build up rent arrears. If you have rent arrears your landlord can:
- make an arrangement with you to pay off your arrears;
- serve you notice and start eviction procedures.
The Housing Executive has a legal duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.
If you are having problems paying rent, contact an advice agency. This could help you avoid losing your home. You should usually tell your landlord if you have any problems paying rent, as he/she might let you pay off your arrears gradually.
You may also be able to stop rent arrears building up by claiming housing benefit (restrictions for persons from abroad may apply).