Rent control

Rent control means there is a maximum rent set on a privately rented property. There is rent control on unfit private tenancies that began after 1 April 2007 and protected and statutory tenancies. The Rent Officer for Northern Ireland sets the rent for all rent-controlled tenancies.

Rent-controlled tenancies

There are two types of rent controlled tenancy:

  • unfit private tenancies starting after 1 April 2007
  • all protected and statutory tenancies

Unfit private tenancies starting after 1 April 2007

A rented property should meet the fitness standards. If it does not meet this standard it is classed as unfit.

Where a district council inspects a private tenancy and finds it is unfit, the Rent Officer works out the maximum rent the landlord can charge.

This rent will apply until the property is made fit and a Certificate of Fitness is issued.

Fitness inspections

All private tenancies that started after 1 April 2007 must have a fitness inspection conducted by the district council unless the property is exempt. Certain properties are exempt from fitness inspections.

An environmental health officer from the council inspects a property to see if it is fit or unfit. They issue a notice.

The council sends information about the fitness inspection to the Rent Officer. They need this information to work out the rent.

The landlord is responsible for applying for a fitness inspection. A tenant can re-apply if a certificate of fitness was issued on the property but the property becomes unfit.

Properties that don't need a fitness inspection

A property doesn't need  a fitness inspection if:

  • it was built after 1945 (this is the age of the building, not the age of any later conversion)
  • a regulated rent certificate was issued on the property within the past ten years
  • a renovation grant was paid by the Housing Executive within the past ten years
  • a house in multiple occupation grant was paid by the Housing Executive within the past ten years
  • it is currently registered with the Housing Executive as an house in multiple occupation (HMO)

For information about houses in multiple occupation, go to:

For a list of properties that are rent-controlled, check the online Rent Register.

Protected and statutory tenancies

If your tenancy started 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.

Rent control applies to protected and statutory tenancies.  Any such tenancy which is prescribed is assumed to be fit.

Any tenancy which is not prescribed is assumed to be unfit, until it is inspected and the local council issues a certificate of fitness.

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