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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Rent, rates and housing benefit

You must pay rent to your landlord in return for living in the property. If you stop paying your rent, are late with a payment or do not pay in full, your landlord may begin eviction proceedings against you. If you’re unable to afford your tenancy, it’s important that you get advice.

Many landlords will expect that you pay rent by standing order or direct debit, while others will allow you to make payments in cash. Whichever way you pay your rent, it’s essential that you keep records of all payments and have your rent book completed.

Almost everyone will experience difficulties paying their bills at some point. If you are worried about falling into arrears or missing a payment of rent, you should talk to your landlord about the problem. Free debt advice is available from a variety of local advice agencies.

If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent. Most people who rent privately have their entitlement to housing benefit worked out under a system called Local Housing Allowance.

The law sets out who is legally responsible for rates. If you're responsible for paying rates you should try to pay these directly to Land & Property Services or make sure that your landlord is passing on your rates payments to Land & Property Services

Get advice as soon as possible if you can't pay. The Land & Property Services have a strict procedure for recovering rates arrears. There are strict time limits. If you contact your local Land & Property Services office, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan.

It can be tempting to stop paying rent if you feel the property you are renting is not up to standard or the landlord is not sticking to the tenancy agreement. This is a risky procedure as your landlord may try to evict you if you stop paying rent.

As a tenant you pay rent to your landlord in return for living in your home. In certain circumstances it is possible for landlords to increase the rent. This section explains when and how rent can be increased and what you can do if you disagree with the rent increase.

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.