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Renters’ Voice responds to ‘notice to quit’ period exceptions survey

Read our response to the Chartered Institute of Housing notice to quit period exceptions survey.

Renters’ Voice warns against ‘doubly’ punishing private tenants under proposed exceptions 

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) recently carried out a survey to gather the opinions of tenants and landlords on exceptions to the proposed longer 'notice to quit' periods under the Private Tenancies Act (NI) 2022.  These new longer notice periods would extend the length of time a landlord has to give a tenant before they move out up to 7 months. But these will only come into effect once regulations on exceptions have been made. 

Objections to survey methodology

Renters’ Voice’s long-standing position is that Northern Ireland should introduce indefinite tenancies like in Scotland and recently in England.   Indefinite tenancies protect renters as a landlord can only end them in certain circumstances. In the absence of such tenancies, Renters’ Voice has consistently called for tenants who are asked to leave their home to get a minimum of six months' notice.  

We’re pleased to see the potential for the department to increase notice periods up to seven months and the CIH’s efforts to consult the public on exceptions. However, we are concerned that the data from the survey has could paint an inaccurate picture of support for shorter notice periods. This is because the survey presented qualitative issues such as antisocial behaviour as quantitative questions. Binary check boxes and numerical ranking systems are too simple to account for exceptions which we believe should be on a case-by-case basis. 

A double punishment for private tenants? 

Ultimately Renters’ Voice responded that a shorter notice period is only appropriate when it can be shown that:  

  1. the tenant has engaged in serious antisocial or criminal behaviour, and
  2. this has a direct impact either on the property or on other people living in the area  

Otherwise, these exceptions could have the potential to doubly punish private renters for crimes by reducing the minimum notice period. 'Renters guilty of antisocial behaviour will already be punished by the criminal courts. Renters' Voice believes that reducing security of tenure on top of this is a double punishment 

Our suggestions for implementing fairer notice to quit exceptions.

To avoid a system in which private tenants are doubly punished, Renters’ Voice called for a limited application for exceptions in cases of serious anti-social or criminal behaviour, that that has a direct impact either on the property or on other people living in the area.  We want to see:  

  • an adjudication process for tenants to have the opportunity to challenge shorter notice periods, and  
  • for these exceptions to be no less than three months — except in very limited circumstances where the tenant would otherwise be dealt with by the criminal justice system 

Renters’ Voice is a group for people renting privately in Northern Ireland. We aim to build a strong voice for tenants and advocate for positive reforms for private renters. We’d encourage you to share this blog on social media, with family, friends, politicians and stakeholders.