Your landlord has to follow a certain legal process to evict you. This starts with giving you a written notice with the date on which your tenancy ends. This is called a notice to quit.
Tenants must also follow the proper process if they want to move out.
Coronavirus and eviction in Northern Ireland
Landlords now have to give private tenants at least 12 weeks' notice of the date they must leave the property.
The tenant must get the notice to quit at least 12 weeks before the date they have to move out.
The 12 week period applies to all notices to quit given by a landlord. It doesn't matter when you moved in or why the landlord wants to evict you.
Speak to our advisers if your landlord gives you less than 12 weeks to move out.
What does a notice to quit look like?
A notice to quit does not have to use any specific words. The landlord doesn't have to use a special form or template. The only requirements are that
- the notice is in writing, and
- you receive the notice 12 weeks before the date it expires.
Can notice be sent by email?
The notice has to be in writing. This includes any way of presenting words in a visual format. It can include texts, emails and messaging apps.
Check your tenancy agreement. It may have extra requirements for notices.
Does a landlord need a reason to end your tenancy?
This depends on whether you have a tenancy agreement or not.
Your landlord needs a reason to evict you
- before your tenancy agreement ends, or
- during the first 6 months of your tenancy if you didn't agree how long it was for.
The landlord will normally include the reason for evicting you on the notice letter.
Your landlord does not need a reason to evict you if
- your tenancy agreement has ended, or
- you never had an agreement and have lived at your rented home for 6 months or longer.
What happens when a notice to quit ends?
The notice to quit ends your right to live in the property. You should plan to move out by the date in the notice unless you are going to defend the case at court.
The landlord will take you to court if you stay in the property after the notice ends. The landlord will usually send you a legal letter first giving you a final chance to move out. This letter will usually explain that
- the next step is taking you to court
- you will be sued for any money you owe (including charges for staying in the property after the notice ended)
- you may be responsible for paying the landlord's legal costs
- the legal action will stop if you move out by a certain date and pay all money owed.
Can the landlord evict you without going to court?
The landlord must take you to court if you refuse to move out. It is illegal for a landlord to
- change the locks on a property while the tenant is still living there
- force or threaten a tenant into moving out
- physically remove a tenant or a tenant's belongings from a rented property.
Your local council's environmental health team can help if the landlord tries to do any of this.
What happens at a court hearing for eviction in Northern Ireland?
The outcome of a court hearing for eviction depends on
- whether you have a contract or not, and
- whether the court believes you have broken the terms of this contract.
The judge can only dismiss the landlord's case against you if
- the landlord didn't serve proper notice or made a procedural error with the case, or
- the judge is not satisfied that you breached the contract or that the breach is serious enough to evict you.
The judge has to order the eviction to go ahead if your contract has already ended. The judge has no power to allow the tenancy to continue if there is no contract.
Speak to our advisers if your landlord has applied to court to have you evicted.
What happens after an eviction hearing at court?
The court will send you a copy of the order if it agreed that the eviction should go ahead.
You should make plans to move out. Get advice if you don't know where to go.
The landlord still can't force you out of the property. They must apply to enforce the court order if you refuse to leave.
A second court hearing can cost you more money, as the judge can make you responsible for paying the costs. You will receive a notice after the hearing to explain that the order is going to be enforced. This means court officers will come to the property and remove you if you have not already left.