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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Private tenant

Landlords in Northern Ireland are not obliged to give tenants a tenancy agreement. However, it’s a good idea to ask for a written tenancy agreement so both you and your landlord fully understand your obligations and your rights. A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract. Once you have signed this document, you have committed to pay the rent for the full term of the contract.

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.

Your landlord may try to force you to move out by harassing you. Your landlord may be doing this so he or she won't have to follow the proper procedure for evicting you. Harassing a tenant is a criminal offence and your landlord could be prosecuted by the local council for trying to force you to leave the property.

Landlords usually ask tenants to pay rent at the start of the month. This means that you may have to pay a month's rent in advance as well as a deposit before you move in to your accommodation. You may be able to get help to cover this rent in advance.

The government restricts the amount of benefits it will give to private renters who are under 35. Your housing benefits will only cover the cost of renting a room in a shared property, unless

  • you have a partner living with you, or
  • your household includes children, or
  • you meet one of the exceptions to this rule.  

You have to let your landlord know if you want to move out of your rented home. The law says you do this in writing a certain amount of time before the date you move out. This written notice is called a "notice to quit". 

Landlords should also give tenants written notice to quit if they want a tenant to move out. 

Moving can be stressful, complicated and expensive. Whether you’re moving in, moving on or moving out careful planning can make the process easier.

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