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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Housing Association

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Your housing association must make sure that your home is safe to live in. Your tenancy agreement should explain whether you or your housing association is responsible for repairs. Ask your landlord for a copy of your agreement if you don’t already have one.

Your responsibilities are set out in your tenancy agreement and tenant handbook. There are certain things you must do. If you don’t, your housing association could take steps to end your tenancy.

If you rent your home from the Housing Executive or a housing association and you receive Housing Benefit, the amount of money you receive could be reduced if your home has too many bedrooms. Find out how many rooms your household is allowed.

You can buy all or part of your home. Regardless of how much of the property you buy, you will become responsible for all repairs and maintenance on the property once the sale has completed.

Some people who rent their homes from the Housing Executive or a housing association and who receive Housing Benefit may be subject to the “social sector size criteria” or “bedroom tax”. This is a cut to your Housing Benefit if your home has more bedrooms than the Government says you need. This change to Housing Benefit will take effect in Northern Ireland from 20 February 2017. This information explains how this new system works, who is and who is not affected, and what help is available if your Housing Benefit is cut because your home is too large.

You are entitled to 3 reasonable offers of accommodation. When you get an offer you'll have an opportunity to view the property. Your offer letter should explain how much you'll have to pay for the property.

Your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be reduced if the Government says you have too many bedrooms. However, for the next few years, the money that you lose will be replaced from a separate fund. Politicians at the Assembly have set up a fund to offset these cuts to Housing Benefit, meaning that most people in Northern Ireland will not actually lose out financially because of the changes. 

Secure Housing Executive (NIHE) and housing association tenants can exchange their homes with other secure NIHE or housing association tenants as long as the landlords both agree. Introductory tenants can only exchange in rare circumstances. Speak to Housing Rights if you’re an introductory tenant who needs to swap.

Get advice as soon as possible if you can't pay. The Land & Property Services have a strict procedure for recovering rates arrears. There are strict time limits. If you contact your local Land & Property Services office, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan.

Once you've been a tenant for 5 years you may be able to buy your home. The amount of discount you'll get increases depending on how long you've lived in the property. Some property types can't be bought because they are difficult to come by and needed for social housing stock.

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