In recent years, more and more people in Northern Ireland are renting their homes from a private landlord. This type of arrangement has both advantages and disadvantages. You have more choice over the type and location of your home and you don't have to pay for the cost of repairs and improvements, but you don't have the same security that you would in a home you own or rent from a social landlord.
Deciding to rent privately
Before you decide to look for private rented accommodation, you should make sure that it’s the right housing choice for you and your household. If you aren’t sure that renting privately is the best option for you, have a look at your housing options, speak to one of our housing advisers or get advice from an independent advice agency.
Finding a place to rent
There are a number of ways to find properties available to rent. Before you start looking, you should think about what kind of property you need. Think about:
- what size of property you need
- how much you can afford to pay in rent and bills
- the areas you would like to live in.
If you will be getting benefits to help with your rent, the area you live in and the number of other people in your household will have an impact on how much benefit you will receive.
Finding a property
Once you have a good idea of the type of property you require and the location that best suits you, you can start looking for suitable properties. There are a number of ways to find property available for rent.
There are a number of dedicated property websites, such as PropertyPal and PropertyNews. Private listing websites like Gumtree also contain details of homes to rent. Researching properties online can give you a better idea of what you should expect to pay for a particular type of home in specific areas.
Register with an agent
Contact agents who operate in the area you wish to live in and ask them if they have any suitable properties. Some properties can be rented very quickly, before the agent has an opportunity to advertise it. If you contact an agent to let them know what kind of property you are looking for they may keep you in mind when a suitable home becomes available. Tell the agent:
- the location you want to live in
- the type of property you are interested in
- how long you want to live in the property and
- how much you can afford to pay in rent.
You shouldn't pay fees to an agent who is trying to find you somewhere to rent. The landlord is supposed to pay the agent's fees. The property advertisement should contain information on any other fees that the agent will charge you if you decide to move into the property.
Look around the neighbourhood
If you know what neighbourhood you’d like to live in you could spend an afternoon walking around, taking note of any properties that you would like to find out more about. Most properties that are available to rent will display a “To Let” sign or a notice in the window.