When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Evicting introductory tenants

If you haven’t been a Housing Executive (NIHE) or housing association tenant for the last year, you’ll probably be an introductory tenant. After 12 months you’ll become a secure tenant and it will be more difficult to evict you.

Your 12 month introductory tenancy doesn’t have to be spent with one landlord.  For example; if you are given a housing association home on 1 January and you then swap into a NIHE property in April, you will become a secure tenant on 31 December.

Ending an introductory tenancy

Your introductory tenancy will end because

  • you become a secure tenant when the 12 month period ends or
  • your landlord takes legal steps to end your tenancy and evict you.

Evicting an introductory tenant

You could be evicted if you break the terms of your agreement.  The Housing Executive or housing association can end your tenancy if

  • you haven’t paid your rent
  • you, someone you live with or a visitor to your home has been involved in anti social behaviour.

Anti social behaviour includes any type of behaviour that would make you a difficult tenant.  This could include complaints about:

  • noise from your home
  • violent or harassing behaviour
  • the property being used for illegal or immoral purposes
  • the property not being kept in a good condition
  • animals at the property

The legal process

NIHE or your Housing Association has to serve you with a Notice to Terminate.  This must

  • tell you that your landlord is seeking an application for possession and explain the reasons why
  • tell you that you can ask for a review
  • explain when that review will be completed and when you can expect to hear the result
  • tell you which court will look at your case
  • give the date when legal proceedings will begin which must be at least 28 days after you receive the Notice
  • tell you where you can go for help and advice

Contact Housing Rights if you receive a Notice to Terminate.  An adviser may be able to help with your review. You need to let the Housing Executive or housing association know within 14 days if you want a review or not.  Once the date in the Notice has passed, your landlord can continue with legal action to evict you.

Review hearing

Your review can be done on paper or in person.  At an oral hearing you’ll be given an opportunity to explain your side of the story and answer any questions your landlord has.  You can get an adviser, a solicitor or a friend to speak for you.  Advice agencies won’t charge for this service although there may be a small Data Protection Fee to get a copy of your records from your landlord. You don’t go to a paper hearing.  The Housing Executive or housing association will review any written evidence you’ve submitted as well as its own files.

The person or people carrying out the review won’t have been involved in the original decision to ask for a Notice to Terminate.  There will normally be a NIHE Area Manager on the panel.

The review could

  • decide that the original decision was correct and allow your landlord to continue with the legal action to evict you or
  • decide the original decision was wrong and allow your introductory tenancy to continue.

You can’t appeal the review decision but you might be able to ask for a Judicial Review.  This is a complicated legal process so get advice before making this kind of decision.

Going to court to be evicted

The judge will normally have to allow your landlord to evict if

  • it has served you with a Notice to Terminate,
  • it has given you an opportunity to go to a review hearing and
  • you were given at least 28 days’ notice in your original Notice.

The court won’t look at the reasons for the decision, but the court has to be convinced that evicting you is a reasonable and proportionate step for your landlord to take in light of what you have done. 

Is eviction a reasonable step?

As an introductory tenant, you won’t normally be given an opportunity to speak up for yourself at court.  Normally, as long as the Housing Executive or housing association has taken all the correct legal steps the judge will allow the eviction to go ahead.  However, the judge does have to be convinced that evicting you is a reasonable and a proportionate step for your landlord to take.

It's very difficult to say what is and what is not reasonable or proportionate.  For this reason, it’s important to get proper legal help from an agency like Housing Rights.  Our staff may be able to help you fight this eviction and stay in your home.