What is the private rented sector?

The private rented sector offers an alternative to home ownership and rented social housing in Northern Ireland.

Private renting

Guidance on different topics about private renting can be found at nidirect.

Topics include:

  • Tenancy Deposit schemes
  • Landlord Registration Scheme
  • renting a home privately
  • different types of rented accommodation
  • private rent and tenancies
  • health and safety in rented accommodation
  • renting a room
  • repairing your home: private tenants
  • living in shared accommodation
  • problems with your landlord - how the council can help 
  • The Caravans Act (NI) 2011

Private sector housing assistance

Support for repair and improvement in the private housing sector in Northern Ireland is currently delivered by grant aid. Arrangements for grants are contained in legislation, namely the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 and the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

Guidance for landlords and tenants


Private tenancies

‘The Caravans Act (NI) 2011’

The Caravans Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 came into effect on 16 September 2011.  The Act introduced, for the first time in Northern Ireland, statutory protection for those who occupy a caravan as their main home on sites which have been approved for that purpose. The Act also created protection for caravan owners who use their caravan solely for holiday purposes. The Caravans Act applies to privately owned licensed sites, and to sites owned by district councils as well as Travellers’ sites owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

The Department for Communities is statutorily obliged to review Parts 1 and 3 of the Act, which relate to the Residential sector, every five years.  However, the 2021 Review as with the previous Review in 2016, also undertook to review Part 2 of the Act relating to the holiday sector for which the Department for the Economy has policy responsibility and Part 4 which relates to the dimensions of structures to be regarded as caravans, for which the Department for Infrastructure has responsibility. Additionally, the Department for Infrastructure also has the responsibility for the provision for the licensing and control of caravan sites under the 1963 Caravans Act.

The 2021 Review has now concluded by way of the publication of the Summary Report on 29 March 2023.

Appointment of Tenancy Deposit Scheme administrators

The Department for Communities invites expressions of interest from organisations with the appropriate skills to operate a Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Tenancy Deposit Schemes are approved schemes in which landlords protect a deposit that is taken from a tenant at the commencement of a private tenancy.

Review of Houses in Multiple Occupation Scheme

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are an important part of the private rented sector and can provide affordable housing for some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society, or those on low incomes, students and migrant workers. Because of the higher risks of living in an HMO, they are subjected to a higher level of regulation than other rented housing.

In June 2023 the Department for Communities produced a report looking at the operational issues raised in a review of the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (NI) 2016, and the responses from landlords, tenants and the Northern Ireland Houses in Multiple Occupation Unit (NIHMO Unit) based in Belfast City Council (BCC). The report summarises the requests for changes to the legislation and the Department’s proposals (subject to Ministerial approval).

General guidance


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