When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland


Secure Housing Executive (NIHE) and housing association tenants can apply for a transfer to a different NIHE or housing association property.  You can ask for a transfer anywhere in the UK and tenants from England, Scotland & Wales can transfer to properties in Northern Ireland.

Applying for a transfer

You have to be a secure tenant of a housing association, NIHE or a local authority to apply for a transfer.  You can’t normally apply if:

  • you’ve been living in your current home for less than 2 years
  • you owe more than 4 weeks’ rent
  • your property is in a bad condition or neglected
  • you owe your landlord money for damages
  • you’ve broken the terms of your tenancy agreement

However, you might be able to apply even though you don’t meet all the criteria above if

  • you have passed the 4 tests for homelessness
  • you have been given other homeless points
  • the Housing Executive thinks you need a transfer on health or social grounds
  • you are living in shared accommodation and want to move somewhere on your own
  • you can’t afford your rent and heating costs
  • your landlord thinks it would be a good idea for you to transfer.

You can apply for a transfer online. If this doesn't suit, you can call the Housing Executive on 03448 920 900 and ask for an application form to be posted to you. If you don’t currently live in Northern Ireland, you'll need to complete a self-assessment form and an application form, both of which can be found on the Housing Executive's website. 

After you’ve applied

Once your application has been processed a housing officer will award you points using the Common Selection Scheme.  You’ll go on the waiting list and be entitled to 3 reasonable offers of accommodation.  If you refuse all 3 offers you could lose some of your points and you won’t get any further offers for 12 months.

It’s impossible to say how long you’ll have to wait before you find a new home.  It’s a good idea to contact the Housing Executive or any housing associations that operate in the area you’re moving to and ask how many points transfer applicants need for that area. 

Priority transfer applicants: Management Transfers

There is a special type of transfer status which is given to some people on the waiting list.  This is a Management Transfer and it is only given to people who meet certain criteria.You should ask if you can be given this status if any of these circumstances apply:

  • you have passed all 4 homelessness tests 
  • you’ve been given intimidation points
  • transferring you could help sort out a neighbourhood dispute which is getting worse
  • you’re being transferred because the area you live in is being redeveloped
  • you want to move somewhere else and your current home is scheduled for major repairs or improvements
  • you live in housing built for a specific user group and it is due to be demolished or transferred to another landlord or you don’t need this type of housing anymore
  • someone in your household needs specially adapted housing, other than a bungalow or ground floor property
  • you have a district heating debt and transferring you would stop this increasing

People with Management Transfer status will go on the waiting list with all other applicants. However, when a housing manager is offering a property to someone they can offer it to someone with this special status even if other people on the list have more points as long as the decision would solve a housing management problem.  

Bedroom tax and transfers

The bedroom tax applies to social tenants who live in a home that has more bedrooms than the household needs.  The "tax" is a deduction from the benefits you get to help pay your rent.  Most people who have had their benefits cut because of this change to benefit rules have the missing money made up by another government fund. However, you could lose this top-up payment if you transfer or swap your tenancy and end up living in a property that is the same size or larger than the one you left.

Some tenants who transfer their homes will continue to get the top-up payment.  This will only happen if

  • your new home is smaller than the one you are leaving or
  • you have been given management transfer status.

So, if you're planning on moving to another social tenancy that is the same size or larger than the one you are leaving and you receive benefits, you should try to get management transfer status.  If your landlord refuses to award this status, contact us for advice.