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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Leaving accommodation provided with your job

Some people have their accommodation provided as part of their employment. This is known as "tied accommodation". If you are living in "tied accommodation", you will not normally be a tenant. This means you won't have the same rights as a private tenant. It also usually means that you'll have to leave your property pretty quickly if you lose your job. 

If you have been asked to leave your accommodation, you need to check your lease agreement carefully to find out what your rights are. If you don't have a lease or don't understand the terms in it, contact Housing Rights for advice. 

How much notice should you get before you have to leave?

The amount of notice you are entitled to will depend on what your contract says. Some contracts for "tied accommodation" will give you a set period of notice. However, if you don't have a lease or your lease doesn't say anything about how much notice you should expect, your employer could try to evict you quite quickly. 

Most people living in tied accommodation are licensees and not tenants. This means that they are not protected by the legislation set up to look after private tenants, and this includes protections from illegal eviction. While private tenants are entitled to a minimum of 28 days' notice to quit, licensees are only entitled to "reasonable packing up time". This could be as little as an afternoon, or as much as a few days depending on your circumstances. 

If you've been asked to leave your accommodation, you should start thinking about your other housing options as quickly as possible. 

Your options will be to

  • Apply for social housing
  • Find a private property to rent or
  • Buy your own home

Social housing

You can apply for social housing in Northern Ireland online or by phoning NIHE to request a paper application form.

On your application, you will have to select two areas of Northern Ireland in which you’d like to live. Once a housing officer has reviewed your form, you will be awarded a certain number of points and placed on the waiting list for housing. You will be eligible for offers of housing from the Housing Executive and all registered housing associations operating in Northern Ireland.

The amount of time that you will then wait for an offer of housing will depend on

  • How many points you are awarded and
  • The availability of the type of housing you require in those area.

You can find out more about the waiting list for social housing elsewhere on our website.

Getting help if you are homeless

If you don’t have anywhere to move to, you can ask the Housing Executive for help. The Housing Executive has a legal duty to provide accommodation to anyone who is legally homeless. You can approach the Housing Executive to ask for an assessment once you have fewer than 28 days remaining in your current home.

The Housing Executive will only have a legal duty to assist you if you pass four tests. These are

  • Homelessness – you will pass this test if you have to leave your current home in less than 28 days
  • Eligibility – you will only fail this test if you have been involved in certain types of antisocial behaviour or your nationality or immigration status restricts your access to public services
  • Priority need – you will pass this test if you have dependent children, are pregnant, have a serious illness or disability. If you’ve been in the services for a long time, you could also pass this test if you have been institutionalised as a result of your service
  • Intentionality – you will pass this test as long as you haven’t intentionally done anything to make yourself homeless. The Housing Executive has to take a broad look at your reasons for homelessness. The fact that you've been asked to leave your job and lost the accommodation provided with that job shouldn't automatically make you fail this test. 

You can read more about these tests elsewhere on our website.

Finding a privately rented property

Some people will be happy to move into a privately rented property, particularly if they’re not sure yet where they want to live permanently. In most cases, you will need to have quite a bit of money saved up in order to get a new privately rented tenancy. Most landlords will ask for a month’s rent in advance and for a deposit, which is usually the equivalent of one month’s rent.

If these upfront costs are going to make things difficult for you, you may be able to get some help. You could apply for an interest-free loan from the discretionary support fund to help with your first month’s rent. You’ll have to pay this money back, but the repayments should be manageable.

Buying your own home

There are a number of schemes to help people buy a home, including shared ownership and rent to own schemes. You can find out more about the help that is available to people who want to buy a home elsewhere on our website. 

Emergency temporary housing

If you have nowhere to sleep, you may be able to get a space in a homeless hostel. If you've got dependent children or a serious illness or vulnerability you should ask the Housing Executive to arrange this temporary housing for you. But, if you are in good health and don't have any children living with you, you may have to find your own temporary housing.  You can find a list of emergency accommodation providers on the Council for the Homeless website.  You can ring these providers to see if they can give you a bed. There's no guarantee that a hostel will have a bed available when you need it so you may have to ring quite a few before you find somewhere to stay.  

Some hostels have rules about who can stay and may work with particular groups of people, such as: 

  • single people
  • young people
  • people with drug or alcohol addictions
  • people with mental health problems
  • people leaving an institution
  • families
  • women fleeing domestic violence

If you aren't working, you should be able to apply for Housing Benefit to help with the cost of the rent on a hostel. You may have to pay service charges to the hostel and these will not usually be covered by Housing Benefit, so you might have to pay them out of your Jobseeker's Allowance or other benefits.