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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Requirement to give 12 weeks notice to quit to be extended until 31 March 2021

Drawing of notice to quit

The Minister for Communities has announced that private landlords will continue to have to serve longer notice periods until 31 March 2021. As a result of emergency legislation, introduced in response to the COVID-19 crisis, private landlord is required to issue 12 weeks notice to quit in all cases if they wish to end a tenancy. Notice must be in writing and must be received by the tenant at least 12 weeks before they date they are expected to vacate the property. 

The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus, Modifications) Act (NI) 2020 provided for an extended notice period between 5 March 2020 and 30 September 2020, but granted powers to extend this emergency period. The statement from the Minister confirms her intention to extend the emergency period mentioned in the legislation for a further 6 months. This will provide some much-needed security to tenants who are concerned that they may otherwise be asked to leave their homes with as little as 28 days' notice. 

Housing Rights welcomes protection for tenants

At Housing Rights, we are hugely relieved to see a further extension of this enhanced notice to quit period. Over the past few weeks we've heard from tenants who are still being asked to leave their homes without being given the correct notice, and we hope that the Minister's announcement will reach landlords and agents who may not yet be aware of the change in legislative requirements. 

Any tenant who is asked to leave without the 12 weeks notice can get advice from our helpline. They can also refer their landlord to free advice from Landlord Advice NI. 

Forcing a tenant to leave a rented property, without going through the proper legal process of applying for and enforcing a court order, is illegal. The council can prosecute such offences.

Advice on dealing with rental debt and affordability concerns

We appreciate that this crisis is affecting everyone and that both tenants and landlords are struggling financially as a result of the economic devastation this virus has wreacked. It's important for tenants to realise that they are still legally required to pay rent, and that there may be assistance to help with this costs from sources like Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments. Our advisers can help with applications for this support.

Where tenants and landlords needs help working out rent payment plans during periods of financial difficulty, or require assistance with other types of rental dispute, our Housing Mediation Service will be glad to assist. 

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Coronavirus, Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies