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Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Evicted from a privately rented property

You may be able to stay in your home even if your landlord has asked you to leave. An adviser may be able to suggest ways in which you can delay or prevent the eviction so that you can continue to stay in your home.

If your landlord doesn't follow the correct procedure s/he could be harassing you or carrying out an illegal eviction.

Tenancy type

You have a fixed term tenancy if your tenancy agreement states that your tenancy will end on a certain date. You have a periodic tenancy if your tenancy runs from month to month or week to week rather than until a certain date. If you don't have a tenancy agreement you will usually have a periodic tenancy.

You have a periodic tenancy if you continue to live in your accommodation with the landlord's permission after the end of the 'fixed term tenancy' and you don't sign or agree a new lease.

If your tenancy began after 1 April 2007 and does not have a definite period stated in the tenancy agreement, tenancy statement or rent book - a period of six months applies to your tenancy. Once this tenancy period ends, your tenancy will be a periodic tenancy. This type of tenancy term does not apply to protected tenancies.

Risk of eviction

If you are in a fixed term tenancy your landlord can usually only begin eviction proceedings

  • at the end of the fixed term or
  • if you have breached the tenancy agreement in some way.

A breach of the tenancy agreement could include not paying rent, failing to look after the property correctly or subletting the property without permission.  If your landlord is starting eviction proceedings because you have breached your contract s/he should inform you of the specifics of the breach.

If you're a periodic tenant and you do not have either a fixed term agreement or a default 6 month tenancy terms, your landlord does not have to have a reason to start eviction proceedings.  You could be issued with a Notice to Quit at any stage.  As the landlord does not have to give reasons to evict you, it would be very unlikely that a court would allow you to stay on in the property against the landlord's wishes.

Rent arrears

If you have rent arrears because of delays with your housing benefit, you should let your landlord know. Make sure you have handed in all the information the Housing Executive needs. Keep a note of any contact you have when you are dealing with the Housing Executive.

If your housing benefit won't cover the rent arrears try to come to an arrangement to clear the arrears. Make sure this is affordable and you can keep to the arrangement. If you can prove that you can stick to the arrangement, you are far less likely to be evicted.

Your landlord does not have to accept a repayment arrangement.

Evicted due to antisocial behaviour

Your landlord may want to evict you because they believe that you, or someone living with you or visiting you, have been acting in an antisocial way or have been disturbing, upsetting, annoying or harassing your neighbours.

Talk with your landlord. Perhaps your neighbours have been complaining unreasonably about your behaviour. Or perhaps you could go to mediation to sort out your problems.

If you admit that there has been antisocial behaviour, do everything you can to make sure it stops. You will want to show your landlord and, if your case is brought to court, the judge, that you have turned over a new leaf. The court will only consider your case if you have a valid tenancy agreement.

Evicted because of damage or neglect

Your landlord may want to evict you because you haven't been taking care of the property. Contact your landlord if you are having difficulty looking after the property because of health reasons. You may be able to get some support to help you manage in your home. 

If you have damaged the property, you could:

  • repair the damage
  • offer to pay for the repairs
  • get a grant to carry out repairs.

Only try repairing something yourself if you know how. If you make the damage worse you will annoy your landlord even more.

Landlord suspects property is vacant

Your landlord may try to recover possession of the property if he or she thinks you're not actually living there. If you have been away from home but still want to come back to live there, you should explain this to your landlord. You should have a good reason for being away for so long, such as looking after a sick relative or working away for a short spell.

If you are living in your home, you may be able to prove this by showing your utility bills, such as gas or electricity.

Going to court to be evicted

Only an officer of the Enforcement of Judgements Office can physically remove you or your belongings from your rented home.  After your landlord serves a Notice to Quit, he or she will have to apply to the courts for a court order if you don't move out.  At the hearing, the judge will only listen to your side of the story if you have a valid tenancy agreement and you can show that you are not in breach of this tenancy agreement. 

If you are a periodic tenant and no longer have a valid tenancy agreement the judge has no power to allow you to remain in the property.  Although your landlord can't evict you without a court order, you should probably try to find somewhere else to go when your Notice to Quit runs out.  If you do go to court, the judge could order you to pay your landlord's court costs.