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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing Rights welcomes new law giving private renters more protection against eviction

Leading housing advice charity, Housing Rights, has welcomed the official passage of emergency legislation which gives private renters enhanced protection against eviction during the period of Covid19.

The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020 was passed by the NI Assembly on the 28th April and came into effect on 5th May 2020.  The law means that, from yesterday, the minimum notice period a private landlord can give to a tenant is 12 weeks.

Commenting on the change, Kerry Logan, Policy Officer at Housing Rights stated;

This change in the law is significant and very welcome. In practice it means that private tenants who would normally only be entitled to 4 weeks notice that their landlord wishes them to leave the property, are now entitled to 12 weeks notice.

As a housing advice charity, a disproportionate of the calls to our Helpline come from tenants renting from private landlords. While 18% of people in NI live in the private rented sector,[1] around one third of the calls to our Helpline come from these tenants. Since the onset of this crisis, that proportion has increased to almost half. We are therefore pleased that the Department for Communities has been able to act swiftly to enhance the legal protection available to tenants in this scenario

The new law will apply until 30th September of this year and also allows the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, to extend this period by a further 6 months in certain circumstances. Speaking about the legislation in the Assembly, Minister Hargey commented;

“In these extraordinary times, where a number of people will temporarily struggle to pay their rent, through no fault of their own, they need certainty in the meantime that their homes are safe and that their landlords cannot move to evict them. The legislation will mean that no renter in private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.”

In welcoming the legislation, the charity highlighted the need for both landlords and tenants to be made aware of this new protection.

Ms Logan continued,

“Now that this important protection has taken effect, it is imperative that the Department for Communities and other stakeholders ensure that landlords and tenants are made aware. We would encourage anyone concerned about or affected by an eviction to seek advice by contacting our Helpline on 028 9024 5640.”

Notes to editors: 

  1.  Housing Rights is the leading specialist provider of independent housing advice in Northern Ireland.  Established in 1964, the charity works to improve lives by tackling homelessness and housing problems.  During March and April 2020 the average proportion of Private Rented Sector calls to Housing Rights Helpline, Email and Chat was 46%.
  2. For further information contact Kerry Logan at kerry@housingrights.org.uk.
  3. Spokespersons will be available for comment. 
  4. The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Bill 2020 was passed by the NI Assembly through accelerated procedure on 28th April 2020. It became law in Northern Ireland on 5th March 2020, the day after the Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act.
  5.  Department for Communities guidance for private landlords and tenants, in light of the Act, can found in Section 4 of the Coronavirus Housing Guidance for Private Rented Landlords and Tenants.
  6. 18% of families live in the private rented sector according to the Family Resource Survey 2018
  7. The legislation only applies to the private rented sector and does not apply to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or Housing Associations.
  8. If the Notice to Quit period is extended beyond 12 weeks this will not apply to:
    Landlords who need to live in the property concerned
    Tenancies where any of the tenants engage in serious anti-social behaviour
  9.  The Act also enables the Department to shorten or extend the period that the new Notice to Quit requirements apply beyond 30th September 2020.
  10.  The extended Notice to Quit period requirement cannot be applied retrospectively, so will not affect NTQs which were issued before 5th May 2020.