There are a list of criteria that a tenancy must satisfy in order to be protected. The first of these is that the tenancy must have existed before 1 April 2007. No new protected tenancies can be created after this date, but the Rent Officer may still declare that tenancies which were in place before April 2007 are protected by law.
The Rent Officer, rather than individual landlords, sets all rents for protected tenancies. If a landlord wishes to increase the amount of rent which can be legally charged on this type of tenancy, s/he must request a Rent Determination from the Rent Officer.
While protected tenants have many of the same rights as other private tenants, they also have a number of additional rights. These are a right to succession and greater protection from possession action.
It is much more difficult to gain vacant possession of a protected tenancy than it is an uncontrolled tenancy. This is because the tenant has greater rights to stay in the property and can only be evicted on certain grounds.
Protected tenancies are a type of rent-controlled tenancy. You could be a protected tenant and not be aware of this fact. If you are a protected tenant, the amount of rent that your landlord can legally charge you is restricted.
You may be a protected tenant if you have been living in the same property since before 1 April 2007 and the property you are living in is, or was on 1 April 2007, in a poor state of repair. If you're not sure whether you're a protected tenant or not, there are a number of ways to find out.
The Rent Officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for setting rents on rent controlled and protected tenancies. If your landlord is charging more than the Rent Officer has allowed, you could be entitled to have this money back.
Protected tenants have greater rights to stay on in a property than other tenants. You may be entitled to stay in the property for the rest of your life. Responsibility for repairs in protected tenancies may depend on whether you have a tenancy agreement or not.
Your landlord may have a mortgage or secured loan on the property you are living in. If the landlord falls into arrears on these loans, your home could be at risk. You may have limited rights to stay in the property on a short term basis, but it is unlikely you will be able to stay there long term.