When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

How long is the tenancy?

The length of your tenancy depends on the terms of your tenancy agreement. Most new tenancies in Northern Ireland are initially for a period of one year.

Check how long you can stay

Ask the estate agent or landlord how long the tenancy agreement is for.  In most cases, the tenancy agreement will be for a period of one year.  When a tenancy agreement includes a start and end date it is a fixed term tenancy. 

You have to stick to the terms of your tenancy agreement for the full period of time which it covers.  If you decide to leave the tenancy before the fixed term is up, your landlord can usually keep your deposit and may pursue you for the rent owed until the end of the fixed term.

If you’d like to stay in the property for more than a year, you can discuss this with your landlord.  Once the initial tenancy agreement comes to an end, you can

  • stay on in the property on a month to month basis or
  • sign a new tenancy agreement for a fixed term. 

If you stay on in the property without signing a new tenancy agreement, you will become a periodic tenant.  This means that you may leave the tenancy at any point by giving your landlord the correct amount of notice to quit in writing.  However, your landlord can also end the tenancy at any stage by giving you Notice to Quit, even if you've been a perfect tenant. 

If you are a protected tenant you have a right to view the property as your permanent home.

Default tenancy term

If your tenancy agreement does not mention a set end date the law allows you a default tenancy term of 6 months.  This means that you cannot be asked to leave the property during the first 6 months, unless you have breached the terms of the tenancy agreement.

How will it affect your place on the waiting list?

If you are renting privately while waiting for an offer of social housing you should think carefully before committing yourself to a fixed term tenancy of a year or longer.  If you're waiting for an offer of social housing you should always tell the Housing Executive before you take on a new private tenancy. If you don't let the Housing Executive know you're doing this, you could lose all your points. 

People who are waiting for an offer of social housing should ask the landlord to agree to a 6 month or shorter tenancy. If you take up an offer of social housing before your fixed term agreement ends, your landlord may hold you responsible for paying the rent on your private rented accommodation until the tenancy agreement expires.  You might be able to get housing benefit for both properties for up to 4 weeks if you're offered a social tenancy and have to give Notice to Quit on your privately rented property. You won't be able to get the rent paid on both properties if you receive Universal Credit. 

Speak to an adviser at Housing Rights if you've been offered a home by the Housing Executive or a housing association and you're still in a fixed term tenancy.