When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Paying for your home

Paying for your home
Paying for your home

Wherever you're living, you'll have to pay something to stay there.  If you're renting you'll have to pay rent and homeowners will usually have to pay a mortgage.  If you're not earning much, you can apply for benefits to help with these costs.  You'll have other housing costs too: rates, insurance and all your heating and utility bills. 

Almost everyone who lives in a property in Northern Ireland has to pay rates. Rates pay for services throughout Northern Ireland; like schools, hospitals and roads; and for services in your local area; like bin collection, parks and leisure centres. The amount you pay depends on the value of your property and which council area it is in. You can get help to pay your rates if you're on a low income or receiving certain benefits.

Housing benefit can help some people to pay their rent and rates. The government is replacing housing benefit with Universal Credit. Most people who need to claim help to pay rent for the first time will claim Universal Credit instead of housing benefit. 

You can only make a new claim for housing benefit if you are of pension age or if you live in supported or temporary housing. 

Most people need to apply for a mortgage when they’re buying a home. This is a long term loan from a bank or building society. The loan is secured on your home so if you stop paying the bank can repossess the property. You should speak to an independent financial adviser to find out which type of mortgage is best for you.

Whether you own your home or rent it, you need to have contents insurance. Homeowners will also need to have buildings insurance and may have to have life assurance as part of the conditions of their mortgage. Insurance protects you against risk. In return for this cover, you pay a premium to the insurance company. You can usually pay your premiums in a lump sum or in monthly deduction

You have to pay rent to your landlord, whether that’s the Housing Executive, a housing association or a private landlord. When you’re offered a property you should be told how much the rent is and how much your rates and service charges are. If you're not given this information, make sure you ask for it before agreeing to take on a property.

Utility costs can be hard to budget for, particularly if you get a bill rather than using a pay as you go meter. You can switch your utility supplier if you can get a better deal elsewhere. There are lots of comparison websites about that can help you decide if switching supplier can save you money.

Finance Support may be able to help you with money in an emergency. Apply online or by phone.

Most people who need to start claiming benefits will now claim Universal Credit. You can make and manage a Universal Credit claim online. The phone number for Universal Credit in Northern Ireland is 0800 012 1331 

Finance Support is usually the best place to ask for money in a financial emergency. But, there are other types of help available if that is not an option. 

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