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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Coming to the end of a tenancy agreement

You need to check your tenancy agreement to see if you have to write to your landlord to say that you'll be leaving at the end of your term. If you're not sure, contact Housing Rights for advice. 

Do you have to give notice?

If your contract says that it starts on a certain date and ends on another date, you probably don't have to give any written notice to your landlord. This is because the tenancy is for a fixed term and does not make any reference to a rolling periodic tenancy after the fixed term ends. 

However, most contracts say that they will run for a certain period and can then continue to run on a periodic, or rolling, basis after this period unless one or other party brings it to an end. If your contract says something like this, it's probably a good idea to let your landlord know that you'll be leaving at the end of the fixed period. You must do this in writing and you must make sure that the landlord receives your letter or email at least 4 weeks before the end of the tenancy.   

Even if you don't have to give notice, it's still a good idea to let your landlord know whether you intend to stay on in the tenancy or leave at the end of the term

If you stay in the property after the date on which the tenancy expires, you will have to give your landlord written notice when you wish to leave.

Staying on in the property

If you want to stay on in the property once your fixed term tenancy has expired you should ask your landlord for a new tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement should be for a fixed period of time, either 6 months or a year. Without a new agreement you will become a periodic tenant and can be evicted much more easily.

If your tenancy is a joint tenancy it may be more difficult to stay in the property if the other tenants wish to move. Your landlord may be happy for you to stay if you can find other tenants to take over the rest of the property.

You have no legal right to stay in a property after the tenancy period has expired. However, your landlord cannot evict you without following due process.

The dangers of periodic tenancies

If you are a periodic tenant, your landlord can ask you to leave the property at any point by giving you Notice to Quit in writing. 

Unless you've lived in the property for 5 years or longer, your landlord only needs to give you 28 days' Notice to Quit. If you've lived in the property for between 5 and 10 years, you will be entitled to 8 weeks' notice. This increases to 12 weeks' notice if you've been in the property for 10 years or more.

Periodic tenants also have fewer rights if the property in which they are living in is repossessed. If your landlord hasn't been paying the mortgage, the bank may repossess the property. Without a fixed term tenancy agreement, the bank may not allow you to continue living in the property and can begin eviction procedures by serving the correct notice to quit.

Letting viewers into the property

If you've decided to move out, your landlord will probably want to put the property back on the market pretty quickly. Many tenancy agreements include a clause that allows the landlord or an agent to show potential renters around the property once it is on the market.

Check your tenancy agreement to see what it says about property viewings. It should state that the landlord or agent must give notice before entering the property for the purposes of a viewing. If the agreement states that the landlord or agent can enter without giving notice this could be an unfair term. You should contact Trading Standards for more information about unfair terms in contracts.

If your tenancy agreement does not refer to viewings, you do not have to allow your landlord or an agent access to the property. However, it would be reasonable to allow viewings at agreed times as long as 24 hours notice is provided.

If your landlord or an agent operating on the landlord's behalf is entering the property without your permission, he or she could be guilty of harassment. Contact your local Environmental Health Department if you are worried about landlord harassment.