When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Tenant issues Notice to Quit

Advice for landlords in Northern Ireland

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 choose option 1. 

Tenants must usually give you written notice if they plan on moving out. They don't need to give notice if

  • they are leaving at the end of their fixed-term tenancy, and
  • the tenancy agreement doesn't say they have to give notice.

Tenant notice periods

Article 14 of the Private Tenancies Order (NI) 2006 says how much notice tenants must give.  They should give you

  • 4 weeks' notice if they rented the property for less than 10 years 
  • 12 weeks' notice if they rented the property for more than 10 years 

Your tenancy agreement can ask the tenants to give more notice than the law requires. It can't ask them to give less notice than the law requires.

Form of tenant's notice to quit

The notice has to be in writing. This can include text messages or emails. 

It does not have to say anything specific. But the tenant should let you know when they plan on moving out. 

Responding to tenant's notice to quit

Contact your tenants to tell them you've received the notice. 

You should

  • find out exactly when they will be moving out
  • send them a copy of the check-in inventory
  • remind them that the property, and furniture, should be returned in a similar condition to that on this inventory
  • explain when you will inspect the property and when you will return the deposit
  • remind them of the deposit scheme protecting their deposit.

Tenants want to leave before the contract ends

Your tenants may want to move out before the contract ends.  Most tenancy agreements are binding until they expire. Tenants can usually only stop paying rent if the landlord agrees.  

You can

  • agree to end the agreement early with no further liability
  • agree to end the agreement early under certain conditions
  • try to resolve any dispute with the tenants that has led to them wanting to leave
  • try to sue the tenants for unpaid rent

Find out why the tenants want to move out early. They may have a legal right to get out of the tenancy early if

  • there is a break clause in the tenancy agreement, or
  • the tenancy started less than 90 days ago and you or your agent engaged in misleading or aggressive selling tactics
  • you are in breach of your contractual arrangements (e.g. you haven't dealt with repairs)

Get advice if your tenants want to move out before the tenancy term ends. 

Advertising the property before tenants move out

Check what your tenancy agreement says. 

Some agreements say the tenants have to agree to viewings in the property if they are moving out. 

Your tenants have a right to peaceful occupation of the property. You could breach this right if 

  • you carry out regular viewings of their home, or
  • viewings happen at a time that does not suit the tenant.

Work with your tenants to find a way to market the property without affecting their rights. 

Returning the tenancy deposit

You have to protect your tenant's deposit with a special scheme. How you deal with it at the end of the tenancy depends the scheme you've used. 

  • You, or the tenant, can ask for the deposit back if the money is in a custodial scheme. If you're asked for some of the money, you'll need to give reasons and evidence for your deductions. 
  • You have to return the money to the tenant if you used an insurance scheme. The tenant can complain to the scheme if they think you kept some of the deposit unfairly. 

Make sure your tenants know 

  • which deposit scheme protected the deposit
  • when they will get their money back and
  • how they can complain if they do not agree with any charges you make

Remember that 

Setting up for new tenants

It is not a good idea to arrange for new tenants to move in immediately after an old tenancy ends, because

  • your old tenants may not move out when they planned
  • you need time to inspect the property before new tenants move in
  • you may need to decorate or fix things in the property