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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Issuing a Notice to Quit

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. Lines open Monday to Friday, from 9.30am to 2.30pm.

You should always serve a Notice to Quit if you wish to end a tenancy. This gives your tenants sufficient time to find alternative accommodation and is an essential step if you wish to recover possession of the property.

Time periods

The amount of notice which you are required to give your tenants when asking that they quit a property depends on how long the tenants have lived as tenants in the property.

  • If the tenants have been living in the property for less than 5 years, you must give them at least 28 days' notice.
  • If the tenants have been living in the property for between 5 and 10 years, you must give them at least 8 weeks' notice to quit.
  • If the tenants have been living in the property for over 10 years, you must give them a minimum of 12 weeks' notice.

Writing the notice

It's important that the information in your Notice to Quit is easy for tenants to understand. You should clearly state at the beginning of the letter that it is a Notice to Quit and specify the date by which the tenants should have left. 

Your notice to quit should explain when the tenants should expect to receive their deposit back and what procedures you will follow to determine if any money will be kept back from the deposit money.  If the deposit was not protected you should return it according to the guidelines in your tenancy agreement.  If your tenancy agreement didn't contain a timeframe, you should return the money within 28 days of the tenancy ending. Our sample notice may help you prepare.

Tenant is in breach of the agreement

You can only evict a tenant during the term of a tenancy agreement if you can show that the contract allows for this or that the tenant has materially breached the agreement and failed to remedy the breach. In this case, it is advisable to included details of the breach in your Notice to Quit.

Periodic tenant

Your tenant is a periodic tenant if their contract has expired and hasn't been renewed. The tenant will also be periodic if no fixed term was agreed but the tenancy has lasted for longer than 6 months. If your tenants are periodic tenants and are no longer protected by a tenancy agreements you do not need a reason to end the tenancy. 

Serving the notice

You can serve the notice by post, electronically or in person.  Many tenancy agreements will include a term about the service of legal notices, stating that the tenant and landlord agree that the rental property address can be used for the service of legal documents on the tenant.  It may be worth calling your tenants to check that they have received the notice and are happy to comply.

If you choose to serve your notice by email, make sure you get a response or a read receipt that will prove that the tenant received the notice.

Practical considerations

To make the process smoother, you may want to consider enclosing instructions with your notice to quit which explain what you would like the tenants to do with the keys of the property and when you intend to carry out a property inspection. You should also explain how the tenant's deposit will be treated. If, for example, the tenant has arrears of rent you can explain that the deposit will be offset against these arrears and any remainder returned to the tenant. Check your tenancy deposit protection information if you are unsure about procedures at the end of a tenancy.

What happens if you serve the wrong amount of notice?

It may happen that you served a tenant with a 28 day notice to quit, without realising that the tenant is entitled to a longer notice period.  If this happens, you should start from the beginning and serve a fresh notice to quit giving the tenant the correct amount of advance notice.  The law says that the tenant must have the notice in writing a set amount of time before it expires.  At court, you will need to produce your notice letter in order to get a possession order. If the notice has been improperly served, it is likely that the judge will dismiss your case.