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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing Rights welcomes extension of legislation to protect Private Tenants from Eviction

Housing Rights strongly welcomes Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín’s announcement of an extension to emergency measures designed to protect private tenants from eviction during the COVID-19 crisis.

An extended 12-week notice period must now be given in all cases where a private landlord wants a tenant to leave the property until at least 31 March 2021. The extended notice period was originally due to end on 30 September 2020.

The longer notice period will be a huge source of relief to private tenants who are worried they’ll be asked to leave their homes as the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their job security and income unfolds over the coming months.

Housing Rights adviser Laura Reilly commented:

“When the crisis first hit, 73% of COVID-19 related calls to our helpline were from private tenants. Many of these clients are continuing to experience difficulties in sustaining their tenancies as a result of the crisis. The extension of the 12 week notice to quit period will provide important protection, giving them time to secure new sources of income or a new private tenancy, both of which are increasingly challenging in the context of COVID-19.“

 

A survey conducted by Housing Rights Renters’ Voice project in May also highlighted private tenants’ ongoing concerns about finances, paying rent and potential evictions.  Nearly half of respondents said that the 12-week notice to quit period was something that could help with their situation.

Housing Rights adviser Laura Reilly continued:

“It is vital that tenants continue to pay their rent while they can. For anyone struggling to make those payments, they should contact Housing Rights. We can offer advice and assistance on benefits to help with paying your rent, evictions, or put you in touch with our Housing Mediation Service which helps tenants and landlords try to come to an agreement that allows tenants stay in their home.”

 

Private tenants who need advice in relation to paying for their home or eviction can contact Housing Rights on 028 90245640 or get information and chat with an adviser at www.housingadviceNI.org.

Notes:
 

  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. 
  2. For further information contact Frances McGrath Frances@housingrights.org.uk
  3. Spokespersons will be available for comment.
  4. The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act 2020 was passed by the NI Assembly through accelerated procedure on 28th April 2020. It became law in Northern Ireland on 5th May 2020.
  5. Landlords who wish to evict a tenant must first serve notice to quit in writing. Until the emergency measures, some tenancies could be ended with as little as 28 days’ notice. When the notice expires, the landlords must apply for a court order if the tenant remains in the property. Removing a tenant from a property without proper court enforcement is an offence and local councils have powers to prosecute persons involved in such an offence.
  6. The extended notice period is required in all cases, even where there is alleged anti-social behaviour or the landlord intends to recover the property for his/her own personal use
  7. The extended notice period only applies to notice given by a landlord to a tenant. The amount of notice that a tenant must provide to a landlord to end the tenancy depends on the particulars of their contract and on the length of the tenancy.
  8. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive can help tenants whose Housing Benefit or Universal Credit does not cover their full contractual rent by making a Discretionary Housing Payment award.
  9. Renters' Voice is a new project for people who rent privately in Northern Ireland to build a strong voice and influence landlords, politicians and government.  The project has supported tenants to influence measures introduced during the Covid-19 crisis and will continue to build a voice for change in the Private Rented Sector.  Renters’ Voice is supported by Housing Rights and funded by Nationwide Foundation and can be contacted via Housing Rights or directly at rentersvoice@housingrights.org.uk.