Tenant's checklist for new private tenancies

Searching for a property to rent

Before you start your search, think about how big you need the property, what rent you can afford and where you want to live.

Check websites to search for a rental property or register with a letting agent in the area you want to live (never pay a letting agent to find you a place to live, this is unlawful).

The landlord

All landlords are now required, by law, to be registered with the Landlord Registration Scheme. Before agreeing to rent a property check the landlord is registered, you can do this by checking on NIDirect.

The cost of private renting

If you are receiving benefit you may be entitled to help with your rent. You may be entitled to Housing Benefit, Discretionary Housing Payment or Housing Costs if you receive Universal Credit.

Remember you will often be asked for a deposit and a month’s rent in advance when you agree a new tenancy. If this could be a problem, you should contact an advice agency, like Housing Rights, who may be able to help you apply to other charities for help with your deposit. 

Your landlord or letting agent must provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which will let you know how energy efficient the property is. Properties with a poor rating will cost more to heat.

Think about utility costs – heating, electricity, telephone, broadband etc. Will your earnings or benefit cover these costs?

Every tenant should have contents insurance to protect furniture and possessions from fire, theft, flood and other damage. Your landlord’s insurance will not cover damage to any of your possessions.

Tenancy information notice

From 1 April 2023 landlords must provide you with a tenancy information notice within 28 days of granting the tenancy. They must also provide you with any variations to this notice within 28 days of the change being made.

Tenancy agreement

Although landlords are not obliged to give tenants a tenancy agreement for tenancies of less than one year and a day, it is a good idea to ask your landlord for one. Before signing a tenancy agreement, make sure you are happy with the terms and raise any concerns with your landlord or letting agent. Only sign a tenancy agreement when you are happy with everything in it.  Your tenancy information notice should mirror the tenancy agreement.


Your landlord or letting agent should provide you with an inventory at the start of your tenancy. The inventory should list the condition and the cleanliness of every item provided as part of the letting. You should make sure you agree with the inventory, this will be really important if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy.

Know your rights

Right to a written receipt

Your landlord must provide you with a written receipt for any cash payment made in relation to the tenancy.  This must be provided free of charge and should be given at the time the payment is made or if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably possible after that time.

Tenancy deposit scheme

From 1 April 2013 your landlord must protect your tenancy deposit in an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. You must also be provided with information to confirm this. If you have not received this information by the 35th day of your tenancy, you should contact your local council.  From 1 April 2023 a landlord cannot ask for a tenancy deposit of more than one month’s rent.

Right not to be harrassed

It is an offence for a landlord to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or to persistently withdraw or withhold services which the tenant needs to live in the premises as a home. If you feel you are being harassed by your landlord you should contact your local council.

Right not to be illegally evicted

Your landlord must give you notice to leave the property, the length of notice depends on how long you have lived in the property. If your landlord is trying to evict you illegally, you should contact your local council.

Depending on the length of the tenancy the tenant must give their landlord a minimum notice to quit period as set out below.

Length of tenancy Notice to quit
Tenancy not been in existence for more than 10 years No less than 4 weeks written notice
Tenancy has been in existence for more than 10 years No less than 12 weeks written notice

Further information


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