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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Paying rent and other charges

You have to pay rent to your landlord.  When you’re offered a Housing Executive or housing association property you should be told how much the weekly rent is.

Responsibility for rent

The person named on the tenancy agreement is responsible for paying rent to the Housing Executive or housing association who owns the property.  If the rent isn’t paid the social landlord can take legal action against this person. This could mean taking the person to Magistrate's Court to force them to pay or taking the person to court to evict them if the rent hasn't been paid. 

Calculating Housing Executive rents

The Housing Executive uses a set formula to work out how much rent it should charge for each of its properties.  Every property is given a number of points.  The number of points depends on:

  • the type of building
  • the age of the building
  • how many rooms the property has
  • the type of heating
  • whether the property has a garage

If the property is lacking certain amenities; like a proper water supply, mains electricity or a connection to the sewer mains; or if it’s a flat with communal hallways points are taken away from the total.

Every April, the Housing Executive sets a monetary value for a point.  Your rent is worked out by multiplying the total number of points your property has by this monetary value.   Your rent will be increased in April of each year and you’ll normally get a letter about this in February or March.

Calculating housing association rents

Housing associations are free to set their own rents.  Many will follow the same system that the Housing Executive uses but some associations will use their own formula for setting rent.  Ask your housing association for it's rent setting policy if you want to know how rents are set. 

Housing association rents usually increase in April of each year.  The Department for Communities can suggest an acceptable percentage rise for housing association rents but the associations are allowed to increase their rents by more than this amount.   You should get a letter in February or March explaining how much your rent is going to increase by. 

Rates

You'll have to pay the domestic rates on your home.  You can apply for housing benefit to help with the costs of your rates if you're on a low income or if you receive benefits. 

Service charges

You might have to pay service charges for your property.  These are charges for heating, lighting and could also include charges for cooking and hot water.  The charges depend on what type or property you're living in.  

Support costs

You might have to pay support costs if you live in sheltered or supported housing.  These costs will cover things like the cost of having a warden and a scheme co-ordinator.  If you get help through Supporting People you will also have to pay for this service.  If you get housing benefit, your Supporting People costs will be covered by this benefit. 

Paying rent

You can pay your rent

  • using a Paypoint service at a shop
  • using Allpay through your landlord's website or by phoning 0844 557 8321
  • through a Direct Debit or Standing Order or
  • in cash or by cheque at a Housing Executive accounts office or your local housing association office.

If you’re having difficulty paying your rent you should get in touch with Housing Rights or another charity that provides free debt advice and counselling.  There are lots of charities that will help you for free so you should never pay a company to sort out your debts.