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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Responsibilities

All landlords of private tenancies in Northern Ireland need to register. You can do this online, by telephone or in writing. You will have to pay a fee to register and you'll need to renew your registration every 3 years.

Once your property is up to standard and you've decided on a fair rent to charge you should advertise it as available to let. There are a number of ways you can do this.

You are expected to maintain the property to a certain standard and are usually obliged to carry out certain repairs.

If you're receiving rent in return for accommodation you are a landlord. You may have lodgers living with you in your home, you may just be renting out a property until the housing market improves, but either way there are certain steps which you are legally required to take.

Your tenants have a legal right to know your name, address and telephone number. If you have paid for the services of an agent, but your tenants have decided to contact you directly, you should talk to your tenants to find out why. The agent may not be providing the services you are paying them for or may not be carrying out their legal obligations.

As the property owner, you should make sure that you keep accurate records for all your rented properties. This should include information on your property's amenities as well as any safety certificates associated with the property. As a landlord, you are running a business and should give the same level of importance to record keeping as you would in any other business venture. You must also comply with the Data Protection Act and may have to notify the Information Commissioner's Office of your business.

Generally, you will be liable for any repairs to the structure of the property and furnishings which were supplied with the letting and the tenants will be liable for repairs to their own items or for repairing any damage which is their fault. You should specify repairing obligations in your tenancy agreement.

When you communicate with your tenants you need to ensure that you do so in an appropriate and timely manner. If your tenants have literacy issues or do not speak English, you will need to consider how you can effectively communicate with them.

Even if you've hired an agent to manage your rental properties, you must make yourself aware of your legal obligations to your tenants. If a legal dispute arises you will need to show that you conducted yourself according to your legal obligations. If you're paying an agent to do this for you, make sure they have a sound knowledge of the legislation that governs the private rented sector in Northern Ireland.

The Housing Executive and housing associations have a number of responsibilities to their tenants. If you’re not happy with your landlord's service you can use the complaints procedure.

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