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

For any queries on the following, please contact the Public Health and Housing Team on 0300 013 3333 to discuss or email us at env.health@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

To read about Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords managing private rented accomodation, please click here

Private Rented Accommodation: The Rights and Responsibilities of Private Tenants.

Property Fitness/Disrepair

Councils in Northern Ireland are responsible for ensuring that properties which are rented privately, are in good repair and condition, and are fit for human habitation.

If you are a tenant living in a rented property and are concerned that it's in disrepair, or you suspect the property is unfit to live in, you may wish to contact us to discuss although we advise you first report the matter to your landlord or agent.

For further information please visit:

www.communities-ni.gov.uk/publications/private-tenancies-advice-tenants

Harassment and Illegal Eviction

A private tenant can only be made to leave their home if a court of law has issued a court order. 

Our Public Health and Housing team can:

  • provide advice to landlords and tenants
  • investigate complaints of harassment and unlawful eviction
  • prosecute landlords who have harassed or illegally evicted their tenants.

Harassment

A landlord who continually acts in a way that is designed to make a tenant leave the property could be guilty of harassment.

Examples include:

  • interfering with gas, water and electricity supplies
  • making threats and instructing a tenant to leave
  • entering the property without consent
  • refusing to carry out repairs
  • making frequent unannounced visits, especially late at night.

Tenants should record the details of any harassment including the date, time and a short description of the incident.

Unlawful Eviction

This occurs when a landlord, or any person acting for them, forces or attempts to force a tenant from their home without following the proper legal procedures.

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.

If a landlord requires their tenant to stop living at their property, they must issue a 'notice to quit'.  The length of notice required to be given, will be dependent on the length of the tenancy. The notice to quit should be in writing and both the landlord and tenant should keep a copy.  If the tenant has not left when the notice has run out, the landlord must apply for a Possession Order from a Magistrates' court.

www.nidirect.gov.uk/protection-against-eviction

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:

www.belfastcity.gov.uk/buildingcontrol-environment/housing/NIHMO/NIHMO.aspx

Landlord 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

If you are a tenant, you can check if your landlord is registered, and if they’re not you can contact us to discuss.

Search the Landlord Register at  https://landlordregistration.nidirect.gov.uk/

Environmental Health Departments in Northern Ireland enforce this scheme for Department for Communities, 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.

Rent Book

All private tenants should receive a rent book within 28 days of their tenancy beginning and it should be free of charge.

Tenancy Deposit Schemes

Most landlords will ask for a security deposit from a tenant in a property. This money is used as insurance against any damage you may cause or rent you may owe at the end of the tenancy. Any deposit paid on or after 1 April 2013 must be protected in an approved scheme within 14 days of it being paid.  

Tenants must be given information about the deposit and the scheme that is protecting it, within 28 days of the landlord receiving the deposit.

The three appointed scheme administrators in Northern Ireland are:

My Deposits NI  - www.mydepositsni.co.uk/

Letting Protection Service NI -  www.lettingprotectionni.com/

Tenancy Deposit Scheme NI - www.tdsnorthernireland.com/home/

For more information please visit: 

www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/tenancy-deposit-scheme-information-landlords

If you suspect that your Landlord has not secured your deposit, please contact us to discuss.