Almost everyone who lives in a property in Northern Ireland has to pay rates. Rates pay for services throughout Northern Ireland; like schools, hospitals and roads; and for services in your local area; like bin collection, parks and leisure centres. The amount you pay depends on the value of your property and which council area it is in. You can get help to pay your rates if you're on a low income or receiving certain benefits.
You can make a formal complaint if you are unhappy with a decision the Housing Executive has made or how the Housing Executive has treated you or your case. You need to use a different procedure to challenge a housing benefit decision, challenge a decision about your homelessness or appeal a decision to end your introductory tenancy.
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.
Housing associations and the Housing Executive can end a tenancy without going to court if they suspect that a property has been abandoned, but the correct procedure has to be followed. If you're worried about eviction you should speak to someone urgently. Advisers at Housing Rights may be able to help you stay in your home.
Your landlord can only end your tenancy by following the correct process. Secure Housing Executive and housing association tenants can only be evicted if a court believes that they have broken the tenancy agreements. It's easier for a landlord to evict an introductory tenant, but the landlord still has to get a court order. Think carefully and get advice before you take any action to end your tenancy. It can be difficult to get a new social tenancy if you've given one up.
If you don't already get Housing Benefit, you can only make a new claim for it if you get a Severe Disability Premium as part of your other benefits or if you are over pension age. You also need to have a responsibility to pay rent or rates. If you can't apply for Housing Benefit, you may be able to get help to pay your rent by applying for Universal Credit.
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.
You’ll be responsible for dealing with many of the repairing issues in your home. Tenants are responsible for decorating the inside of the property, including carpeting and flooring and you’ll also be responsible for looking after your garden. The Housing Executive will usually deal with any structural problems or faults with the heating, plumbing and electrical systems.