Council has several responsibilities in relation to rented housing
The Council is committed to improving and maintaining housing standards throughout the Borough. Council may be of assistance for anyone living in sub-standard properties or is having difficulties with a landlord. Council would encourage both tenants and landlords to try and resolve disputes between themselves prior to Council involvement.
Houses in Multiple Occupation
From Monday 1 April 2019, licensing laws for shared flats and houses will change.
On this date the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 will come in to operation and local councils across NI will take over responsibility for regulating houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) from the NI Housing Executive.
The NI HMO UNIT can be contacted by telephone: 028 9027 0414 or by visiting their website: https://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/nihmo
All HMOs must be licensed by their local council and all HMO owners must comply with the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.
Belfast City Council have made improvements to their online application form for House in Multiple Occupation licensing. This includes additional functions such as applications for:
- varying a managing agent
- increasing occupancy of an HMO, and
- temporary exemption notices.
To help you with the new application form, you can watch their step-by-step video tutorials and find detailed guidance within each form on the NIHMO website.
You can now also provide feedback when completing your application, which Belfast City Council will use to improve future developments.
More information about NIHMO, including the online application form, can be found at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/nihmo
Landlords have an obligation to ensure any gas services and equipment in any property they rent is safe. For that purpose they are required to have the gas system and appliances inspected and passed as safe by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer
Housing problems such as dampness or disrepair
Rented properties must meet basic fitness standards in that they should be free from anything that may be harmful to your health such as rising or penetrating dampness. If the Council is satisfied that any dwelling is in such a state as to be prejudicial to your health then we may serve a Statutory Abatement Notice on the landlord of the property requiring him to carry out any required works.
Landlords who receive an Abatement Notice from Council may be eligible for a monetary grant. This is administered through Northern Ireland Housing Executive. For more information on these grants please visit www.nihe.gov.uk
For further advice on dampness and condensation please see Advisory Leaflet on Dampness and Condensation.
Private Tenancies Order
Any rented properties built before 1945 and where a tenancy first began after 2007 are subject to the above legislation. An important aspect of this Order requires relevant properties to be inspected by Officers from this Department who will determine if the property meets basic fitness standards for habitation. Landlords have an obligation to ensure any relevant properties have a Fitness Certificate issued by Council. It is an offence to rent such properties without the relevant Fitness Certificate. Visit
Landlord Registration Scheme
A centrally held register of private landlords:
- allows tenants, neighbours and local councils to identify if landlords are registered
- provides information on the number of landlords in Northern Ireland and allows landlords to receive regular updates on the duties and responsibilities of landlords and tenants
- provides education and support to landlords
It improves tenants’ confidence in their landlords and increase landlords’ accountability by:
- promoting good practice
- ensuring the right advice and help is available
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
In order to provide safeguards for landlords and tenants it is now the law that any deposit provided by a tenant is placed by the landlord in a third party organisation who will hold onto the deposit until the end of the tenancy. They will also act as mediators in any disputes over deposits between tenants and landlords.
For further information please see www.tdsnorthernireland.com
Rent Books and Tenancy Agreements
Landlords should provide tenants with a Rent Book showing a written record of agreed payments and dates. Landlords should also provide tenants with a copy of the Tenancy Agreement which should clearly outline both parties’ responsibilities in relation to the dwelling
Harassment and illegal eviction
All tenants are protected by law whereby it is an offence for a landlord to cause them harassment. It is also an offence for a landlord to illegally evict a tenant
Harassment may involve some or all of the following
Stopping gas, water or electrical supplies
Entering the dwelling without the consent of the tenant
Not carrying out reasonable essential repairs
Making frequent unannounced visits especially at night
Illegal eviction – landlords must provide tenants with at least 4 weeks written notice of his intent for a tenant to vacate a property. It is illegal to evict any tenant without giving this period of Notice. If the tenant still remains in the property after this notification the landlord must still not evict the tenant and must obtain an Order from Court.
If you feel that your landlord is harassing you or you have been illegally evicted from your home please contact us.
Solving Disputes in Private Rented Housing
If you live in privately rented accommodation or act as a landlord, it is possible that you may occasionally experience disputes in relation to your accommodation or the terms of your rental agreement. Staff from the Council’s Public Health and HousingTeam can offer advice to tenants, landlords and letting agents on what their legal rights and responsibilities are.
Additionally, a mediation service is available to those currently living or providing accommodation in a private rental. The service is funded by Department for Communities and is operated by Housing Rights.
The Housing Mediation Service is free and is open to:
- Registered Landlords
- Letting agents
- Housing associations operating in the sector
The service can help with many kinds of disputes including:
- Property standards
- Entry rights
- Rent/rates arrears
- Unprotected tenancy deposits,
- Threatened evictions
- Breach of tenancy terms
- Noise/Anti-social behaviour
When both parties in the dispute have agreed to take part in mediation an independent mediator with specialist housing knowledge helps the parties talk about their dispute and come to a solution that works for everyone. Please find out more by following the link below:
Nuisance from neighbouring property
Council may be of assistance in cases where the state and condition of one property is causing a problem at another property. Common enquiries to Council involve accumulations of rubbish and malodour. If Council is satisfied that the state and condition of one property is a nuisance to another we will serve a legal notice on the person responsible requiring them to do what is necessary to remove the nuisance
For further assistance or advice on any of the above housing matters please contact us:
Telephone 028 2766 0257