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Housing Information for Tenants

Tenancy Statements

A tenancy statement must be provided if a tenancy started after April 2007.

This must contain the information outlined in the Tenancy Terms Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007

If you do not provide your tenants with a tenancy statement within 28 days of their tenancy beginning, this means a six month tenancy has been created and you must meet the default repairing obligations.

These repair obligations are outlined in the Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006

For more information about your legal responsibilities as a landlord, visit Housing Advice NI.

Landlord Registration

All private landlords must register with the Department for Communities Landlord Registration Scheme.

Registration lasts for three years, and landlords must re-register after each three year period.

The Council enforces the Landlord Registration Scheme.  If a landlord fails to register or provides false information for registration, a fixed penalty of up to £500 can be imposed or offenders can be taken to court where they could be fined up to £2,500.

If you require further advice, please visit http://www.housingadviceni.org or contact Housing Rights on 028 9024 5640.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

A tenancy deposit is money which your landlord may ask you to pay when you start to rent a house, as protection against damages to the property or for unpaid rent.  From 1 April 2013, it must be protected in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Deposits for tenancies outside Northern Ireland or deposits paid before 1 April 2013 do not have to be protected.

Any deposit for a private tenancy taken by a landlord or agent must be protected in an approved tenancy deposit scheme within 14 days.  Tenants must be informed that their deposit has been secured within 28 days.  All the approved schemes are free to use.

If deposits are not protected, a fine (up to three times the value of the deposit) or court proceedings where there could be fined up to £20,000.

The scheme also makes it illegal for a landlord or agent to take a deposit in any other form than money – all deposits must be monetary.  The fine for taking a deposit in any other form can be up to £500 or a fine in court of up to £2,500.

Types of Schemes

There are two types of deposit scheme:

  • Custodial Scheme: this is where the landlord protects the entire tenant's deposit in the scheme until it becomes due at the end of the tenancy.
  • Insurance Scheme: this is where the landlord can hold the deposit, on the condition they pay a fee and/or an insurance premium to the scheme to protect the deposit, until it becomes due at the end of the tenancy.

Who Runs the Scheme?

Three appointed scheme administrators operate the schemes:

  1. My Deposits
  2. The Dispute Service NI
  3. Letting Protection Service Northern Ireland

Enforcement

The Council enforces the scheme for all private rentals in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area.

If the Council finds a landlord or agent holding a deposit which has not been secured in one of the three approved schemes, a fixed penalty that is three times the value of the deposit taken can be issued.

The fixed penalty for taking a deposit other than money will be determined by the Council and cannot exceed £500.

You can report a landlord or agent for not complying by emailing ehealth@nmandd.org or calling 0300 013 2233.

More information is also available on NI Direct website.

Inspections for Tenants

If you are a tenant living in a rented property and are concerned that it's in disrepair, or you suspect the property is unfit to live in, we do advise you to first report the matter to your landlord or agent.

You can also contact us on 0300 013 2233 to arrange an inspection.  One of our Officers will carry out an inspection of the property, and if necessary one or more of the following notices may be issued:

  • A Nuisance Abatement Notice - if we deem the disrepair is causing conditions that are bad for health, for example, through damp or dry rot.
  • A Notice of Unfitness - if we inspect a property and find that it is unfit for habitation.
  • A Notice of Disrepair - if repair works are necessary, the landlord is given a specific time frame for repairs to be carried out (this notice may only be issued if the property meets the fitness standard).

Harassment and Unlawful Eviction

A private tenant can only be forced to leave their home if a court of law has issued a court order.

Our public health and housing team can:

  • Provide advice to landlords and tenants
  • Investigate complaints of harassment and unlawful eviction
  • Prosecute landlords who have harassed or illegally evicted their tenants.

Harassment

Harassment covers any action taken by a landlord, or someone acting on their behalf, to make a tenant leave their home.

Examples include:

  • Interfering with gas, water and electricity supplies
  • Making threats and instructing a tenant to leave
  • Entering the property without consent
  • Refusing to carry out repairs
  • Making frequent unannounced visits, especially late at night.

Tenants should record the details of any harassment including the date, time and a short description of the incident.

Unlawful Eviction

This occurs when a landlord, or any person acting for them, forces or attempts to force a tenant from their home without following the proper legal procedures.

Examples include:

  • Changing the locks to a property when a tenant is not at home
  • Physically throwing a tenant out
  • Stopping a tenant from getting into part or all of their home.

If a landlord wants a tenant to leave, they must provide a ‘Notice to Quit', even if there is no tenancy agreement.

The following time scales for notices to quit apply regardless of what the tenancy agreement states:

  • If the tenancy lasted for less than five years you must receive four weeks’ notice to leave.
  • If the tenancy lasted for more than five years but less than 10 years you must receive 8 weeks’ notice to leave.
  • If the tenancy lasted for more than 10 years you must receive 12 weeks’ notice to leave.

The Notice to Quit should be in writing and both the landlord and tenant should keep a copy.  If the tenant does not leave after the notice has run out, the landlord can apply for a court order from a magistrates' court.

However, it is an offence to evict a tenant without getting a court order, even if the Notice to Quit has expired.

For further advice visit Housing Advice NI.