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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Discretionary housing payment

There are a few key steps you need to take to deal with your debts effectively. A charity that provides debt advice can often help you with this.

Your tenants are obliged to keep their rental accounts up to date. If a tenant is late with rent or hasn't paid in full, you should contact them to find out what has happened.

The amount of benefits tenants get towards rent will not always match up to the amount of rent you charge. Instead, the amount of benefit paid depends on the size of the claimant's household, their personal circumstances and the area in which they live.

You must pay rent to your landlord in return for living in the property. If you stop paying your rent, are late with a payment or do not pay in full, your landlord may begin eviction proceedings against you.

Private renters can get help to pay their rent. If you are not already getting help to pay your rent, you should claim

  • housing benefit if you are over pension age, and
  • Universal Credit if you are below pension age. 

Almost everyone will experience difficulties paying their bills at some point. If you are worried about falling into arrears or missing a payment of rent, you should talk to your landlord about the problem. Free debt advice is available from a variety of local advice agencies.

Private tenants can apply for extra housing benefit if the amount they are getting doesn't cover their rent. This is known as a discretionary housing payment. The Housing Executive decides whether you are entitled to extra benefit and how much you should get.

The government restricts the amount of benefits it will give to private renters who are under 35. Your housing benefits will only cover the cost of renting a room in a shared property, unless

  • you have a partner living with you, or
  • your household includes children, or
  • you meet one of the exceptions to this rule.  

You have to pay rent to your landlord, whether that’s the Housing Executive, a housing association or a private landlord. When you’re offered a property you should be told how much the rent is and how much your rates and service charges are. If you're not given this information, make sure you ask for it before agreeing to take on a property.

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