Types of Private Tenancy in Northern Ireland

March 1, 2016

The private rented sector is made up of houses or property not owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or by a registered Housing Association. The private rented sector plays an important role in the Housing need of a large number of people in Northern Ireland.  The current demand for privately rented property in Northern Ireland is high and it is anticipated that this demand will continue over the coming years.  Currently the Department of Social Development are undertaking a review of the private rented sector to ensure that it is fit for purpose.

The major statutory provisions relating to the private rented sector in Northern Ireland and referred to throughout this information series are as follows:-

  1. The Rent (NI) Order 1978.
  2. Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006.
  3. Housing (Amendment) Act (NI) 2011.

Types of Private Rented Property

As of 1 April 2007 there are three types of tenancies in existence in Northern Ireland.

  1. Protected Tenancies

These are tenancies which would previously have been referred to as “restricted” *regulated” or “protected shorthold tenancies”. Protected Tenancies are governed by the Rent (NI) Order 1978.  Protected Tenancies have limits on the amount of rent which can be charged and the rent may be recorded by the Rent Office’s Rent Register (however the Rent Register is not a fully exhausted list).  A tenancy which is protected and comes within provisions of the Rent (NI) Order 1978 will have all of the following criteria applicable.

  • Tenancy began before 1 April 2007. (It is important to note that no new protected tenancies can be created after this date).
  • The dwelling was built or converted for letting before 1956.
  • The property was first let before the commencement of the Rent (NI) Order 1978 1 October 1978.
  • A tenancy existed at the commencement of the Rent (NI) Order 1978 (1 October 1978)
  • The NAV is less than £140.00.

Although no new Protected Tenancies can be created from 1 April 2007, any tenancy of that type already in existence as at 1 April 2007 will retain their rights (including a right of succession for civil partners or spouses or relatives of the protected tenant who have been living with the Tenant for 6 months prior to their death.

  1. Rent Controlled Tenancies

Rent Controlled tenancies are new tenancies created after 1 April 2007 for which the amount of rent is restricted under the terms of the Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006. The level of rent in these cases is determined by the Rent Officer.  Under the 2006 Order, a Tenancy can be rent controlled if the dwelling house

(a)          Was constructed before 6 November 1956 or as part of a converted building which was constructed before that date and

(b)          It does not meet the fitness standard.  The property will be deemed as not made the Fitness standard unless it is a “prescribed dwelling house” under the 2006 Order or a Certificate of Fitness has been served on the dwelling house.

  1. Non Rent Controlled Tenancies

These are tenancies under the Private Tenancies (Ni) Order 2006 which do not have their rent controlled and therefore the landlord can charge open market rent.

The majority of tenancies in Northern Ireland are non rent controlled tenancies and therefore will form the basis for most of the information contained within this information, although some discussion will also be given to Rent Controlled Tenancies.

If you are a tenant of a privately rented property, it is important to know which type of tenancy you will be subject to. It is equally important for Landlords or Investors seeking to purchase properties with a view of renting them out to be aware of any potential rent restrictions they may be subject to.

For further advice on the various types of private tenancies, please direct your enquiry to a member of our residential property team.