Private rent and tenancies
If you're a tenant in private rented accommodation, you and the landlord have certain rights and responsibilities. A landlord must give you written information to tell you the rent, length of tenancy, rates and what the deposit can be used for. You might get help to pay your rent.
Measures have been put in place to support social and private renters as well as those experiencing homelessness.
If you are facing eviction or are not safe where you live you can get help from the Housing Executive.
Guidance is also available to support tenants and landlords in the social housing rented sector.
Help with your rent
If you have a low income you may be eligible for Universal Credit or Housing Benefit to help pay your rent. Your savings and income will be used to work out how much benefit you could get.
Discretionary housing payments
If you’re entitled to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit towards your housing costs but the amount doesn’t cover all your rent, you could get a Discretionary Housing Payment.
A tenant in private rented accommodation has certain rights in law. A tenant has the right to:
- a Tenancy Information Notice - legally known as ‘Landlord's notice relating to the granting of a private tenancy'
- receipts for payments made in cash
- freedom from harassment and illegal eviction
- required notice to quit
- due process of law
- claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help with rent
- claim help with rates from the Rate Rebate Scheme
Tenancy began on 1 April 2007
If your tenancy began on or after 1 April 2007, your rights also include:
- a default tenancy term of at least six months
- information about landlord's basic repairing obligations
Tenancy Information Notice
Your landlord must provide you with a free Tenancy Information Notice within 28 days of the start of your tenancy.
The Notice will provide important information about your tenancy including the amount of rent you must pay and your rights and responsibilities.
The Notice is designed to help avoid disputes between landlords and tenants.
Notice of Variation
If any of the information in your Tenancy Information Notice changes, then your landlord should provide you with a Notice of Variation , legally known as a ‘Landlord’s Notice Relating to the Variation of a Private Tenancy’, within 28 days of the change taking effect. This Notice should be free of charge.
The Notice of Variation and Tenancy Information Notice are available via the following link:
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between you and the landlord during the tenancy. The landlord should give their tenant a written tenancy agreement at the start of a new tenancy.
Your basic rights as a tenant exist without a written agreement.
Your tenancy agreement might give you more rights than a basic tenant's rights. A written agreement cannot reduce your basic rights as a tenant.
A landlord (or their agent) must provide a written receipt for any payment made in cash linked to your tenancy.
The receipt can be a paper or digital receipt, like an email.
The receipt should include:
- the date of the payment
- what the payment was for (like rent)
- the amount paid
- if any amount is still owed
- if the payment was made in full
If one payment covers two or more amounts, like rent and repairs, then the receipt should show how much was paid for each and if there is any or no money owed.
Paying a deposit to the landlord
Before you move into your home, you will most likely pay a deposit to the landlord or agent. The landlord or agent cannot ask for a deposit which is more than one month’s rent. They can use this for unpaid rent or damage to the property when you move out. Sometimes a landlord and tenant dispute the returnable amount.
At the beginning of the tenancy, it is important to:
- check the details in your tenancy agreement to see what your deposit will cover and how it will be returned
- ask for an inventory of the property’s contents when you move in
- confirm you agree with the terms and conditions of the tenancy before you pay a deposit
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
A landlord must protect a tenant's deposit paid in a tenancy deposit scheme:
The landlord has 28 days to do this and has 35 days to give the tenant the details of the scheme in which the deposit is protected.
Notice to quit period
The tenancy agreement should include how long the tenancy will last. The tenancy period is six months if:
- there is no tenancy agreement
- the time is not agreed
A landlord must always provide the tenant with a written notice to quit, except in the case of a fixed term tenancy.
When a fixed term private tenancy comes to the end of the period of time agreed at the outset, the landlord can end the tenancy. There is no need for the landlord to issue a Notice to Quit in such cases, although it would be good practice for the landlord to give written notice of their intention not to renew the tenancy.
Depending on the length of the tenancy, the landlord must give their tenant a minimum notice to quit period. These notice periods are:
|Length of tenancy||Notice to quit|
|Tenancy not been in existence for more than 12 months||No less than 4 weeks' written notice|
|Tenancy has been in existence for more than 12 months but not more than 10 years||No less than 8 weeks' written notice|
|Tenancy has been in existence for more than 10 years||No less than 12 weeks' written notice|
Depending on the length of the tenancy the tenant must give their landlord a minimum notice to quit period. These notice periods are:
Length of tenancy
Notice to quit
Tenancy not been in existence for more than 10 years
No less than 4 weeks' written notice
Tenancy has been in existence for more than 10 years
No less than 12 weeks' written notice
Further information can be found at the Department for Communities website
If you leave the tenancy early without the agreement of your landlord, even with giving the required notice, you could still be liable for the rent until the end of the tenancy agreement.
If you don't pay your rent, the landlord can withhold your deposit. The tenancy agreement will usually explain this. The landlord could pursue you in the Small Claims Court for the remaining rent.
You should get advice before giving your landlord written notice to quit.
Protected or statutory tenancy
If you moved into the property before 1 April 2007, you may have a protected or statutory tenancy.
This type of tenancy offers the most security against eviction and rent increases. The type of tenancy you have depends on when the tenancy started.
For information about the Rent Officer and rent control, go to:
Tenancies which began before 1 April 2007 don't have a written agreement unless the tenancy is for a fixed term of over one year and a day.
All private landlords must register before letting a new tenancy. To check if a landlord or property is registered, go to: