The Council tackles problems in relation to privately rented housing by requiring landlords to carry out necessary repair or improvement work. Under the Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006, the Rent (NI) Order 1978 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (NI) 2011, landlords have certain legal responsibilities to their tenants.
Certificate of Fitness If the dwelling was built before 1945, a tenant moved in after 1 April 2007, it does not have a Regulated Rent Certificate issued within the past 10 years or did not have a renovation grant paid by the Housing Executive within the past 10 years or did not have a HMO grant paid within the past 10 years you are required by law to have an inspection carried out on the property to determine its fitness for human habitation, the cost of which is £50. Failure to do so is an offence and can result in a fine.
The inspection is carried out by Environmental Health Officers and a certificate of fitness will be issued if the dwelling meets the fitness standard for human habitation. To pass inspection the dwelling must:
- Be structurally stable
- Be free from serious disrepair
- Be free from dampness prejudicial to the health of the occupants
- Have adequate provision for lighting, heating and ventilation
- Have an adequate piped supply of wholesome water
- Have satisfactory facilities in the house for the preparation and cooking of food, including a sink with a satisfactory supply of hot and cold water
- Have a suitably located toilet for the exclusive use of the occupants
- Have a suitably located fixed bath or shower and wash-hand basin each of which is provided with a satisfactory supply of hot and cold water
- Have an effective system for the draining of foul, waste and surface water
If one or more of these standards are not met, the dwelling will be deemed to be unfit and a notice of refusal will be issued, meaning that the rent for the property will be controlled by the Rent Officer for Northern Ireland until the works required to bring the property up to the fitness standard are carried out.
Landlord Registration Scheme
- Under the Landlord Registration Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 all private landlords must provide accurate and up to date information about themselves and their properties to the Registrar.
- From 25th February 2015 all private landlords must be registered on the Landlord Registration Scheme.
- Registration lasts for a 3 year period after which there is a requirement to re-register.
- A landlord found guilty of failing to register or provide false information for registration can be issued with a fixed penalty of up to £500 or if taken to court can be fined up to £2,500.
How To Register:
Registration costs £70 for online registration and £80 for paper registration. Paper Registration Forms can be downloaded from the following website https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/publications/landlord-registration-scheme
Tenancy Deposit Scheme NI A tenancy deposit scheme for Northern Ireland became law on 1 April 2013 under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations (NI) 2012. This means that from 1 April 2013, any deposit for a private tenancy taken by a landlord or agent must be protected in an approved tenancy deposit scheme. The deposit must be secured in an approved scheme within 14 days and a tenant must be informed that their deposit has been secured within 28 days.
There are 2 offences to be aware of:
If the landlord does not protect the deposit, or comply with the requirements of the deposit scheme, they could face a fine (up to three times the value of the deposit) or be prosecuted in court, where they could be fined up to £2,000.
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. In the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area, the fixed penalty fine for taking a deposit in any other form is £500.
Enforcement The Environmental Health Section at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council will enforce the 2 offences of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme for all private rentals in the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area and may issue fines in accordance with the above offences. Please contact 028 9446 3113 for further information.
Types of Schemes There are two types of deposit scheme – custodial and insurance.
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? The Department for Communities (DfC) has appointed three scheme administrators to operate the schemes; each of these organisations provide both custodial and insurance schemes except for LPSNI who offer a custodial scheme only.
My Deposits www.mydepositsni.co.uk
The Dispute Service NI (TDSNI) www.tdsnorthernireland.com
Letting Protection Service NI (LPSNI) www.lettingprotectionni.com
Further information can be found at: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/topics/housing/private-rented-sector
Rent Books Landlords must provide a rent book to their tenants. The information contained in the book depends upon when the tenancy started. Follow the links below for further information.
Tenancy Statements Landlords must also provide a tenancy statement for all tenancies that started after April 2007. The tenancy statement must be provided within 28 days of a tenancy starting otherwise a six month tenancy will apply along with default repairing obligations for the landlord and tenant.
Freedom from Harassment &Illegal Eviction Harassment and unlawful eviction are criminal offences under the Rent (NI) Order 1978.
Harassment covers any action taken by a landlord, or someone acting on their behalf, to make a tenant leave their home.
Illegal eviction occurs when a landlord, or any person acting for them, forces or attempts to force a tenant from their home where the correct legal procedure has not been followed.
If a landlord wants a tenant to leave, they must provide a 'notice to quit', even if there is no tenancy agreement.
The notice must be for at least 28 days, regardless of what the tenancy agreement states. It 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.
Landlords do not need a court order to evict licensees, who share part or all of a property (usually with the landlord). Licensees are only entitled to 'reasonable' notice before they must leave the property.
Dampness and Condensation Dampness is caused by a structural defect to the property that allows water to pass from the exterior of the dwelling to the interior. Condensation is caused by living conditions within the dwelling by the occupant(s), for example drying clothes over radiators or not heating the dwelling adequately. Please follow the link below for further information.
Carbon Monoxide Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. Carbon-based fuels are safe to use. It is only when the fuel does not burn properly that excess CO is produced, which is poisonous. This can happen when appliances such as room and water heaters, fires and cookers have been wrongly installed or poorly maintained, or when a chimney, flue or air vent into a room, such as an air brick has been fully or partially blocked. Poor ventilation adds to the problem by allowing CO concentrations to build up. Anyone in a room with a faulty appliance may potentially be affected.
Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (NI) 2011, rented dwellings should be free from dampness prejudicial to the Health of the tenant(s). If an assessment by an Environmental Health Officer finds that dampness prejudicial to the health of the tenant(s) is present, a Statutory Notice can be served on the landlord, which in turn allows them to apply to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive for grant assistance.
April 2015 - Beko Gas Cooker and GDHA Gas Cooker
Beko Gas Cooker - further details (HSENI website)
GDHA Gas Cooker - further details (HSENI website)
Disrepair and Unfitness In certain circumstances, action can be taken against landlords were a tenanted privately rented dwelling is in serious disrepair or unfit.
For further information on any of the above contact the Environmental Health Department at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.