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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing Rights response to Department for Communities consultation on notice to quit

A notice to quit is a type of eviction letter given to a private tenant. The landlord must give the tenant a notice to quit before going to court for an eviction hearing.

Coronavirus emergency legislation

Legislation passed in 2020 which increased notice to quit periods from 28 days to 12 weeks. This legislation is currently in effect until March 2022. Before this, evictions in Northern Ireland could happen after 28 days' notice.

Private Tenancies Bill

The Private Tenancies Bill is currently making its way through the NI Assembly. This extends the notice to quit period from 28 days to 8 weeks, for tenancies lasting longer than 12 months. The 12-week notice period for tenancies of more than 10 years will stay the same. The DfC’s consultation is to investigate whether 8 weeks is enough time for a tenant to find a suitable home.

Housing Rights response

· We are calling for the Notice to Quit period required by landlords to be extended to 12 weeks. This is particularly important to protect low-income private renters who are facing increasing barriers in accessing tenancies. Providing 12 weeks’ notice would help to avoid scenarios where low-income private renters feel pressurised to accept an unsuitable or poor standard property due to fear that it is their only option to avoid homelessness. Furthermore, it would ensure there is not mixed messaging when the 12 weeks’ notice provided under the emergency Coronavirus legislation comes to an end.

· The Notice to Quit period required by landlords should also apply to fixed term tenancies. This is necessary both to avoid an unequal distribution of rights for those within and without a fixed term agreement, and to ensure that landlords cannot circumvent the need to give tenants the extended notice period.

· We welcome Minister’s stated intention that her Department will consider grounds for eviction in the next mandate. We recognise that this is a significant piece of work and we therefore do not see it as appropriate to introduce exemptions at this stage.

· We do not believe the Notice to Quit period required by tenants should be extended beyond the 4 weeks provided for in the Private Tenancies Bill. This is due to the imbalance of supply and demand, and because the consequences of

failing to secure a new tenancy and risk homelessness are significantly more acute for a tenant than for a landlord who fails to find a new tenant.

· Any extension in the Notice to Quit period required by landlords should be applied to all Private Rented Sector tenancies. This is important to ensure extra protection to all private renters. 

Read our full response

This article was written on 13 January 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.