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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Emergency notice period for private tenants to be extended

Private tenants will continue to benefit from an extended 12 week notice to quit period until the beginning of May 2022, the Minister for Communities has announced.

The 12-week notice period was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus, Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020 created an "emergency period", during which landlords must give 12 weeks' notice if they want a tenant to move out.  This emergency period has been in effect since May 2020. Before then, tenants were often given just 28 days to move out of a property.

The emergency notice period was due to expire on 30 September 2021. A new statutory rule to extend this date to 4 May 2022 has been made and will come into operation on 29 September 2021.

The extension comes as the Assembly considers a new bill to improve protections for tenants who rent privately.

It's important to note that the 12-week period only applies to notices to quit given by landlords.

How are tenants protected from eviction in Northern Ireland?

Landlords are still able to evict tenants and must still follow the same process.

In most cases, this begins with giving the tenant written notice of the date they should leave. Since May 2020, this notice must be given to the tenant at least 12 weeks before the date they are expected to leave. This applies in all cases, even if the landlord wants to live in the property or the tenant has engaged in antisocial behaviour. 

Most tenants will leave by the end of the notice periods. Some will find another rented home, while others will ask the Housing Executive for help to find a new home.

Where a tenant has not moved out, the landlord must apply to court for a possession order. The court will usually grant the order, unless

  • the tenant has a valid tenancy agreement and a legitimate defence, or
  • the landlord has not followed the correct procedure (e.g. has issued the wrong notice).

The landlord must then apply for permission to enforce the possession order, if the tenant remains in the property.

It is unlawful

  • for anyone other than court officers to remove a tenant from a property
  • for a landlord to evict a tenant without a court order
  • for a landlord to harass a tenant into giving up their home.

Getting help with eviction in Northern Ireland

Tenants can get advice from Housing Rights.

Landlords can contact Landlord Advice NI for advice and information on their responsibilities.

This article was written on 6 September 2021. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.