When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Rights and repairs in protected tenancies

Protected tenants have many of the same rights as other private tenants but also have a number of additional rights.  These are a right to succession and greater protection from possession action.

Basic rights of private tenants

All tenants have a range of basic rights.  These rights cannot be taken away by any terms contained in the tenancy agreement between you and the landlord. The basic rights of private tenants are

Right to succession

When a protected tenant dies, the tenancy can pass to a family member who was living in the property at the time of the existing tenant’s death.  In most cases, this will be a spouse or child of the original protected tenant.

To qualify for succession, the new tenant must be a family member who was living in the property at the time of the protected tenant’s death.  The new tenant must also have been living in the property for a period of at least 6 months leading up to the death of the protected tenant.

If, since April 2007 you have inherited a protected tenancy from a family member, your tenancy is a statutory tenancy.  This is broadly similar to a protected tenancy and you will have the same security of tenure.  However, a statutory tenant has no right to succession and on the death of a statutory tenant, possession of the property will pass to the landlord.   If the property is still occupied on the death of the statutory tenant, the landlord will have to regain possession of the property in the normal way, by serving a Notice to Quit and getting a court order.

Protection from possession action

It is relatively simple for a landlord to begin possession proceedings against a normal private tenant.  The landlord must serve a Notice to Quit and obtain a court order for possession if the tenant does not leave when the notice expires.  However, it is much more difficult to evict a protected tenant.

To obtain an order for possession of a protected tenancy, your landlord must be able to satisfy one of the eight mandatory grounds for possession or one of the ten discretionary grounds for possession.  If the landlord files for possession under one of the discretionary grounds the court must be satisfied that it is reasonable to issue a possession order.

Mandatory grounds for possession

If your landlord can prove that any of the following circumstances apply, the court must grant the order for possession:

  • The property was originally the landlord’s home and s/he gave you or the original tenant notice before the tenancy was granted that s/he intended returning to live there in the future.
  • The landlord was a member of the armed forces at the time the tenancy was granted and gave tyou or the original tenant notice that s/he may in the future seek possession of the property in order to live there.
  • Before granting the tenancy the landlord gave you or the original tenant notice that s/he intended to seek possession of the property on retirement (the landlord must be retired from employment to seek possession under this ground).
  • The property was originally intended for occupation by a minister of religion or a missionary and is now required for this purpose.
  • The property was let under a protected shorthold tenancy which has now expired.

There are other mandatory grounds for possession that the landlord can use if the landlord can show that the property was originally an agricultural concern and is governed by the Agricultural Act 1967. Speak to an adviser if you're a protected tenant and your landlord has started legal proceedings to evict you. 

Discretionary grounds for possession

Your landlord may try to regain possession of a property under one of the discretionary grounds for possession.  The court will only grant possession under one of these grounds if it believes possession is reasonable under the circumstances.  Your landlord may have to show that there is reasonable, alternative, affordable accommodation available for your use.

  • You are in arrears or in breach of the tenancy agreement.
  • You have caused nuisance or annoyance to the neighbours or have been convicted of using the premises for immoral or illegal purposes.
  • You have deliberately, or through neglect, damaged the condition or structure of the property.
  • You have has deliberately, or through neglect, damaged furniture provided as part of the letting.
  • The landlord has arranged for the sale or re-letting of the property because the you informed the landlord that you intended to leave.
  • You have sublet all of the property without your permission.
  • You were an employee of the landlord and the property is now required for a new employee.
  • The landlord purchased the property before April 2007 and now needs the property for herself/himself or for members of her/his family to live in.
  • You have sublet the property and are charging an excessive rent.
  • The property is on agricultural land which the landlord wishes to sell.

Repairs in protected tenancies

Your landlord will always be responsible for all the statutory repairing obligations, such as gas installations, electrical installations and ensuring that furnishings provided adhere to safety legislation.

If a regulated rent certificate has never been issued by the district council and there is no tenancy agreement or no mention of repairing obligations in the tenancy agreement, you and the landlord can make your own arrangements regarding repairing responsibilities, outside of these statutory obligations.

However, if a regulated rent certificate was issued by the local council under the Rent Order 1978, default repairing obligations apply to the tenancy. Your local council should be able to tell you if a regulated rent certificate was issued on the property.

The default repairing obligations that apply when a regulated rent certificate has been issued mean that the landlord is responsible for

  • the exterior, structure, pipework and guttering and external paintwork of the building
  • installations for the supply and use of gas, water, electricity, sanitation, including sinks, baths and toilets
  • installations for heating and hot water
  • any appliances, fixtures or fittings that were provided as part of the tenancy.

You will be responsible for:

  • repairing any damage caused by the tenant's actions or neglect
  • keeping the interiors in reasonable decorative order
  • taking good care of the dwelling house.

Your should also get the landlord's permission in writing before carrying out alterations to the property and the landlord should not unreasonably refuse this permission.

Need help solving a problem?

You should always get advice if you are having problems with a tenancy. You can contact Housing Rights for advice on your rights. Housing Rights can also provide a mediation service if you and your landlord are having problems and need an independent person to help resolve these.