You may need to get a certificate to show that your property is fit for habitation. Certain properties don't need to get the certificate, but it is an offence to fail to apply for one if your property isn't exempt.
All rented properties must, at the very least, meet the basic fitness standard. However, even if your home meets the fitness standard it could still be regarded as unfit by inspectors from your local council. You should try to maintain the property to a standard that you would be happy to live in.
There are a list of criteria that a tenancy must satisfy in order to be protected. The first of these is that the tenancy must have existed before 1 April 2007. No new protected tenancies can be created after this date, but the Rent Officer may still declare that tenancies which were in place before April 2007 are protected by law.
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.
While protected tenants have many of the same rights as other private tenants, they also have a number of additional rights. These are a right to succession and greater protection from possession action.
It is much more difficult to gain vacant possession of a protected tenancy than it is an uncontrolled tenancy. This is because the tenant has greater rights to stay in the property and can only be evicted on certain grounds.
You may be a protected tenant if you have been living in the same property since before 1 April 2007 and the property you are living in is, or was on 1 April 2007, in a poor state of repair. If you're not sure whether you're a protected tenant or not, there are a number of ways to find out.
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.