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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

End of a fixed term

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can call Landlord Advice on 028 9024 5640 and choosing option 5. 

When a fixed term expires some landlords choose to allow tenants to remain on a rolling month to month basis. However, it will give you greater security if you ask your tenants to sign another fixed term agreement.

Keeping your existing tenants

If you are happy with the tenants currently renting your property you will probably want them to stay on.

Neither you nor the tenants have to provide a Notice to Quit at the end of the fixed term. You'll want to know whether the property is going to be vacant or not so try writing to your tenants four to six weeks before the tenancy expires to find out what their plans are.

If your tenants wish to stay in the property you can either choose to allow them to become periodic tenants or ask them to sign a new agreement.

If no new tenancy agreement is signed but the tenants agree to stay on until either you or they issue a Notice to Quit, the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy. It is understood that the terms of the initial tenancy agreement still hold. The same repairing and rent obligations will apply to the tenancy. If you wish to increase the rent at any stage or vary any of the terms of the original contract, you should give the tenants 28 days' notice of your intention to do so.

Asking your tenants to sign a new tenancy agreement gives you greater security. You know that the property will remain occupied for a set period of time and can forecast income accordingly. Any rent set will be binding for the full term of the tenancy and cannot be increased until the fixed term expires. You should discuss any proposed rent increase with your tenants. They may not wish to stay in the property if it becomes more expensive.

Giving your tenants notice

Contact your tenants in the final months of a tenancy to find out whether they intend to stay on in the property or not. If the tenants wish to move on or you wish to find new tenants for the property you should serve a Notice to Quit at least 28 days before the fixed term is due to expire.  You do not have to serve a Notice to Quit, but will need one to obtain a court order if your tenants refuse to leave.

If your tenants do not move out when the Notice to Quit expires, you will have to apply to the court for a possession order.

To minimise the risk of having a void month, you will probably want to market the property in the final month of the existing term. Check your tenancy agreement to see if there is a clause specifically relating to property viewings. You should only arrange for other people to view the property with the existing tenant's permission.

Your tenants are free to move out at the end of a fixed term, even if they haven't given you a Notice to Quit.  Some tenancy agreements include a term insisting that tenants give notice to quit if they want to move out at the end of a fixed term tenancy, although this term may be considered unfair and unenforceable.

Reassessing rent levels and property condition

The end of a fixed term agreement is a good time to reassess the rent you are charging for a property. Check how much rent is being charged for similar properties in the area.

You may also wish to consider whether your property needs to be freshened up before letting it to new tenants. Tenants will pay a slightly higher rent for a well decorated and furnished apartment. A small amount of expenditure on new furnishings and paint may mean a much higher rental income over the course of a couple of years.