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Amendments made to Private Tenancies Bill 


This week amendments were made to the Private Tenancies Bill. These changes should mean that the Bill passes the final stages needed to become law. The legislation will bring a number of improvements in the private rented sector including  

  • Enhanced safety standards 
  • Changes to notice to quit periods 
  • Restrictions on the frequency of rent increases 

New requirement to consult on rent levels and rent controls

During the consideration stage an amendment was made to the Bill which would have required many landlords to decrease their rents by 10%.  There was concern about this amendment because 

  • there could be unintended negative consequences like landlords increasing rents to make up for the 10% reduction 
  • the whole Bill could have been at risk if the amendment fell outside the competence of the Bill. This means the amendment was outside of what the Bill was intended to achieve. 

The Minister for Communities brought forward amendments to resolve these issues and they were passed this week.

The amendments mean there will be no rent decreases or controls put in place at this time. Instead, the Department for Communities must hold a consultation on rent decreases and controls within 6 months of the Bill coming into force. 

Representatives of both landlords and tenants must be consulted on the issue before any regulations are made. 

Notice to Quit periods for Landlords 

The assembly also passed amendments about notice to quit periods for landlords. 

Tenants are currently entitled to 12 weeks’ notice to quit under the Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020. This comes to an end on May 4 2022. The Bill provides transitional arrangements which landlords will have to comply with from that date. If the Bill passes landlords will have to give   

  • 4 weeks’ notice, if the tenancy has not been in existence for more than 12 months 
  • 8 weeks’ notice, if the tenancy has been in existence for more than 12 months but not for more than 10 years 
  • 12 weeks’ notice, if the tenancy has been in existence for more than 10 years 

Longer notice to quit periods will be implemented in due course. These range from  

  • 8 weeks for tenancies of less than 12 months, to  
  • 7 months for tenancies of more than 8 years  

These longer notice periods will not take effect until further regulations have been made. The regulations will likely include exceptions to these notice periods. Exceptions may include when the tenant is in substantial rent arrears, has engaged in serious antisocial behaviour or been convicted of a certain criminal offences.  

Future of the Private Tenancies Bill  

The Bill is now awaiting its final stage in the assembly when MLAs will vote on whether to pass the Bill as a whole. The Bill must then receive Royal Assent before becoming law.  

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Private Tenancies, NI Assembly

This article was written on 10 March 2022. 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.