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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Rent

You have to pay rent to your landlord. When you’re offered a Housing Executive or housing association property you should be told how much the weekly rent is.

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.  

Housing benefit can help some people to pay their rent and rates. The government is replacing housing benefit with Universal Credit. Most people who need to claim help to pay rent for the first time will claim Universal Credit instead of housing benefit. 

You can only make a new claim for housing benefit if you are of pension age or if you live in supported or temporary housing. 

If you're renting a property as part of a group, you need to pay close attention to the tenancy agreement. The wording on this agreement can control what happens if one of the group moves out. In some cases, the rest of the tenants can be made responsible for paying the extra rent as well as any rent that the former tenant hasn't paid.

You may be able to challenge or appeal a housing benefit decision if you think it is wrong or unfair. This can be a complicated process so it's best to get help from an advice agency.

The Rent Officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for setting rents on rent controlled and protected tenancies. If your landlord is charging more than the Rent Officer has allowed, you could be entitled to have this money back.

You'll need to establish a level of rent that is both attractive to tenants and covers your own expenditure on the property. When setting rents you should be realistic and remember that letting a property at a slightly reduced rent is more favourable than it sitting vacant on the market.

Money can get tight when you're living in your own home. You may be entitled to some financial assistance to help with rent and other costs.

The Rent Officer, rather than individual landlords, sets all rents for protected tenancies. If a landlord wishes to increase the amount of rent which can be legally charged on this type of tenancy, s/he must request a Rent Determination from the Rent Officer.

Renting a home from a private landlord or through an agent could be an option, but there are potential problems which you should be aware of before taking on a tenancy. Know your rights and responsibilities.

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