It is estimated that most people spend 75 per cent of their time at home. Housing conditions have a significant impact on health and well-being.

We have a legal obligation to take action to deal with public health nuisances in housing and to inspect and assess the fitness of houses for human habitation in Ards and North Down. Our Environmental Health Officers deal with unsafe and unhealthy living conditions in the rented housing sector.

This includes:

  • privately rented properties
  • properties owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and housing associations
  • owner-occupied housing

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) provides public housing in Northern Ireland. NIHE is also responsible for securing the improvement, closure or demolition of houses in the private sector that fall short of the statutory fitness standard. The NIHE can be contacted on 03448 920900 or email information@nihe.gov.uk
 

Private Rented Accommodation - Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords

Land Lord Registration Scheme

All landlords with properties in Northern Ireland must be registered with the Department for Communities (DFC) Landlord Registration Scheme and have a Landlord Registration certificate. The certificate is valid for three years and costs £70.00

For more information visit https://landlordregistration.nidirect.gov.uk/

Environmental Health Departments in Northern Ireland enforce this scheme for DSD, and if a landlord fails to register or provides false information for registration we can issue them with a fixed penalty of up to £500, or take offenders to court where they could be fined up to £2,500.






 

Tenancy paperwork

The law says you must give your tenants

  • a rent book
  • a gas safety certificate, for any gas appliances in the property
  • information on the tenancy deposit protection scheme you've chosen to protect the tenant's deposit and some prescribed information relating to the deposit
  • an inventory.
  • an Energy Performance Certificate
Rent Book

You must provide all of your tenants with a Rent Book.

Tenancy Deposit Schemes

A tenancy deposit is a sum of money which you may ask a tenant to pay at the start of a private tenancy. This is held by you as protection against damages to the property or for unpaid rent. You must provide your tenant with a tenancy statement which sets out the circumstances in which the deposit may be withheld at the end of the tenancy.

Any deposit received by you on or after 1 April 2013 must be protected in an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Deposits paid before 1 April 2013 do not have to be protected.

This information must include:

  • the amount of deposit protected and the address it relates to
  • your full name and contact details
  • details of any agent acting on your behalf
  • confirmation of the tenant’s contact details
  • details of the scheme in which the deposit is protected
  • details of how the deposit will be paid back and the circumstances under which you may keep some or all of the deposit
  • what happens when the tenant is not contactable at the end of the tenancy

If you take a deposit for a private tenancy it is your responsibility to make sure the law is followed. If you use a letting agent, it is their responsibility to make sure that the law is followed and the deposit is properly protected.

You must protect a deposit in an approved scheme within 14 days of receiving it. You must also provide the tenant with the specific information about the tenancy, the deposit and the scheme that is protecting it, within 28 days of receiving the deposit.

A holding deposit

Sometimes you may take a holding deposit before you and the tenant have entered into an agreement for a tenancy of a specific property. If that is the case and the holding deposit becomes the tenancy deposit, you must protect the deposit in an approved scheme.

Safety of deposits

All deposits must be held in special bank accounts, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, to make sure the deposit is safe in case the scheme fails.

The three appointed scheme administrators are:

Tenancy Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland (TDS) 

My Deposits Northern Ireland 

Letting Protection Service NI (LPSNI) 

Click on the links to visit their websites.

Harassment and Illegal Eviction

Harassment and unlawful eviction are criminal offences under the Rent Order (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 as amended by The Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

The Environmental Health Department will:

  • provide advice to landlords and tenants
  • investigate complaints of harassment and unlawful eviction

Harassment covers any action taken by a landlord, or someone acting on their behalf, to make a tenant leave their home. For example: interfering with services such as gas, water and electricity supplies; entering the property without consent; refusing to carry out repairs.

Ending a Tenancy

Notice to Quit

As a landlord, at some point you may need to issue a Notice to Quit. It may be that a fixed term tenancy is coming to an end or you wish to end a periodic tenancy.

You must provide your tenants minimum 28 days written notice if your intention is to seek possession or not to renew the tenancy. The length of Notice given will depend on the length of tenancy.

 Giving a tenant notice to quit -

Length of Tenancy: 5 years or less
Notice to Quit: No less than 4 weeks written notice

Length of Tenancy: More than 5 years and up to and including 10 years
Notice to Quit: No less than 8 weeks written notice

Length of Tenancy: More than 10 years
Notice to Quit: No less than 12 weeks written notice

Protected/ Statutory Tenants

If you have protected and/or statutory tenants then they have considerable security of tenure. You must obtain a Possession Order from a Magistrates Court if you wish your tenant to end the tenancy and leave the property.

Illegal Eviction

Examples include:

  • changing the locks to a property when a tenant is not at home
  • physically throwing a tenant out
  • preventing a tenant from getting into part or all of their home.

Remember, any attempt by you to remove the tenant by force will be seen as an illegal eviction.  District councils have the power to prosecute landlords who harass or illegally evict tenants.

If you have specific issues at the end of a tenancy then we must recommend you obtain independent legal advice.

Property Fitness/Disrepair

The Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006

If you own a property which was built before 1945 and you have started or changed a tenancy since April 2007 then you may need to apply for a Certificate of Fitness. This legislation requires Landlords to apply within 28 days of the new tenancy starting.  The Northern Ireland Housing Executive may require it if you accept tenants whose rent will be paid by Housing Benefit contributions.

Certificates of Fitness to not Expire and there is no requirement to apply with each new tenancy.

Requirements and Exemptions

These notes describe the requirements and exemptions: Notes regarding Fitness Inspection Application

Apply for a Fitness Inspection

You can download the application form below or collect one from our offices at the Town Hall, Bangor Castle or Church Street, Newtownards.  Completed forms should be returned to Ards and North Down Borough Council, 2 Church Street, Newtownards, BT23 4AP.  Please ensure that the Inspection Fee of £50 is included. Payment by Cheque is preferred, but should you require an alternative payment method, please contact us to discuss. Do Not Send Cash Through The Post.

Landlord Fitness Inspection Application Form and Notes

Apply for a Re-inspection

If your property has been found to be Unfit and you have been issued a Notice of Refusal, when you have completed the works required to make the property Fit, you may Re-apply for an Inspection.

You can download the application form below or collect one from our offices at the Town Hall, Bangor Castle or Church Street, Newtownards.  Completed forms should be returned to Ards and North Down Borough Council, 2 Church Street, Newtownards, BT23 4AP.  Please ensure that the Re-Inspection Fee of £100 is included. Payment by Cheque is preferred, but should you require an alternative payment method, please contact us to discuss. Do Not Send Cash Through The Post.

Landlord Fitness Inspection Re-Application Form and Notes

Inspection and Powers

For dwelling houses which do not require a Certificate of Fitness, if we receive a report of a housing problem or issue, or a tenant or landlord requests it, we can carry out property inspections of dwellings.

Depending on the conditions of the dwelling we have powers to issue one of the following notices:

  • Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice
  • Notice of Unfitness
  • Notice of Disrepair

Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, if we are satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists we will serve a statutory nuisance abatement notice on the person responsible for the nuisance, or if appropriate the owner or occupier of the premises.

We can issue these notices on both social and private landlords.

Examples of statutory nuisances:

  • damp caused by defective roof, leaking internal pipes, rising
  • dry rot to timbers
  • fumes or carbon monoxide from central heating boilers, open and glass fronted fires, fumes from oil leaks
  • defective drains causing sewage to overflow or allowing rats to escape
  • accumulation of offensive material, rubbish, or dog mess

The notice will specify the works required to correct the nuisance, and will specify a time frame within which the works must be completed.

Failure to comply with this notice is an offence.   If you do not comply with a Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice you can be fined up to £5,000.

The above abatement notice entitles private landlords to apply for a Northern Ireland Housing Executive repair grant.  For further information, please contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, T: 03448920900 Website: www.nihe.gov.uk

Find out more about Damp and Mould: Damp and Mould Information Brochure

Notice of Unfitness

Under the Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006 if we are satisfied that a privately rented dwelling is unfit to live in, we may serve a Notice of Unfitness on the owner of the property if this is the most appropriate course of action.

If a landlord refuses to comply with a Notice of Unfitness they can be fined up to £2,500.

If the dwelling was built before 1 January 1945, and is unfit, we will notify the Department of Social Development, Rent officer, and they may reduce the rent.

And if a tenancy began after 1 April 2007, and the dwelling was built before 1945 then the landlord may need to apply to us for a Certificate of Fitness.

If we deem the house unfit, this does not mean the tenant must vacate the property. However, if extensive works are required, they may be required to vacate the property temporarily.

If we are satisfied the property is unfit, we will write to the landlord in the first instance advising them what steps are required to make the house fit.

If the landlord does not agree to do the works outlined in the letter we will issue a Notice of Unfitness. This notice will specify the works required, and a timescale within which the works must be completed.

Failure to comply with this notice is an offence.

Notice of Disrepair

Under the Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006 we can issue Notices of Disrepair on any private landlord where their rented property is fit but there is substantial disrepair, or where the disrepair is such that it would affect the comfort of the tenant, for example, a defective central heating system.

In most cases we will notify the landlord of our intention to issue a Notice of Disrepair, and will outline the works required. If the landlord does not agree to do the works outlined in the letter we will issue a Notice of Disrepair.

The Notice of Disrepair will specify the works required, and the timeframe for completion. If a landlord does not comply with the Notice of Disrepair we can take legal action and they can be fined up to £2,500.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

On 1st April 2019, licensing laws for shared flats and houses changed. On this date the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 came into operation and local councils across NI took over responsibility for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) from the NI Housing Executive. All HMOs must now be licensed by their local council. This new scheme aims to regulate HMOs to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of occupants and minimise any negative impacts on neighbourhoods and surrounding area. 

Belfast City Council manages the delivery of the scheme on behalf of all local councils.

For further advice please visit the Belfast City Council website

Grant Assistance

If you are a landlord and want to carry out certain repairs to your rented property you can ask us to serve a legal notice (Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice) on your house, which may entitle you to a NI Housing Executive Repair Scheme grant towards the costs of this work.

Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notices are issued if we deem that conditions exist which are bad for health, for example, through damp or dry rot.

The NIHE Repair Scheme Grant is paid to the owner or agent of a property. It is based on the net annual valuation (NAV) of your property and is not means tested.

To qualify for these grants you should contact us and arrange an inspection before you start any work. You could be disqualified from accessing the grant if any repair work has already been carried out.

More information can be found on the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s website: www.nihe.gov.uk

Gas Safety

If your property has gas heating or any gas appliances, you are legally required to have the boiler and any gas appliances inspected every year.

The inspection must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. All registered engineers carry a Gas Safe Register ID card with their own unique licence number. Before you contract an engineer to check your properties, you must check that the engineer is registered. You can also check online at:

Gas Safe Register - Find an Engineer

Gas Safe Register - Renting a property: information for landlords

You must keep the gas safety record for at least two years and keep proof of all gas-related works carried out. The gas safety record for the property should be given to new tenants within 28 days of their tenancy starting.

If you have gas appliances or gas heating in your property, you should consider purchasing carbon monoxide monitors for the property to protect your tenants.

Keep a record of when your next gas safety check is due. Failure to have a valid Gas Safety Certificate is an offence.

Carbon monoxide detectors

If you install a new or replacement fuel burning appliance, whether it is gas, coal or oil fired you need to install a carbon monoxide detector in the room where the appliance is located. If the appliance is located in a room that isn't used (like a hot press) install the detector just outside so that it can be heard by your tenants if it sounds.

Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous gas.  It has no smell, taste or colour.  For peace of mind you should install a carbon monoxide detector in any room which has fuel burning appliances, such as open fires, stoves, oil burning heaters, gas stoves or a gas boiler.  Make sure your tenants know where these are, how to use them and what to do in case of an emergency.  

Find out more about Carbon Monoxide on the Health & Safety Executive's website.