If you want to rent out a property, you may have to apply to your local council for a certificate of fitness. The certificate of fitness shows that a house is suitable for human habitation and allows you to charge rent at market price.
Applying for a certificate of fitness
Contact the Environmental Health Department of your local council to request a fitness inspection. Find local council contact details in Northern Ireland.
A fee of £50 will be charged for the initial inspection. You will have to complete an application form, providing certain information about your property, including when it was built, number of rooms and the facilities provided. This fee will not be refunded if it turns out your property does not require a certificate of fitness, so be sure to check your property's particulars against the exemptions above.
The property inspection
The Environmental Health Officer (EHO) who carries out the inspection will assess the property to ensure that it meets the fitness standard and is fit for human habitation. If the property passes the inspection you will receive a certificate of fitness and be free to charge tenants at a market rate.
If your property fails the inspection, you will receive a schedule of work that will bring the property up to standard. Until this work is completed and the property is re-inspected (for a £100 fee), it will become rent controlled and the Rent Officer for Northern Ireland will restrict how much rent you are allowed to charge.
Who is exempt?
You don’t need to apply for a certificate of fitness if:
- the tenancy began before 1 April 2007
- a renovation or houses in multiple occupation (HMO) grant has been paid by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) (this only applies for a period of ten years from the date of the grant)
- the property is registered with NIHE as an HMO, see register a house in multiple occupation
- the property was formerly let under a protected or statutory tenancy where a regulated rent certificate has been issued (this only applies for a period of ten years from the date of issue of the certificate)
Fines and penalties
If you fail to apply for the inspection of a qualifying property within 28 days of a new tenancy being granted, you may be fined up to £2,500.