When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Tenancy agreements

Landlords in Northern Ireland are not obliged to give tenants a tenancy agreement. However, it’s a good idea to ask for a written tenancy agreement so both you and your landlord fully understand your obligations and your rights. A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract. Once you have signed this document, you have committed to pay the rent for the full term of the contract. Think of your tenancy agreement like a contract for a mobile phone. Although the network may occasionally have poor service, or the handset might have faults you have to keep paying the bill and must allow the phone provider an opportunity to resolve any problems.

Your tenancy agreement should include certain key terms, including information about the property, the tenancy, rent and other payments, repairs and your use of the property.

Any term in a consumer contract must be fair.  This rule also applies to tenancy agreements.  The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 explain the types of terms that may be considered unfair.


Take time to read your contract. If you are unhappy with any of the terms, ask that they be changed.  The landlord doesn’t have to agree to negotiate the terms of the contract, but you shouldn’t sign any legal contract until you are happy that you understand it and can comply with it.

You don't have a right to a tenancy agreement. A landlord only has to provide a written tenancy agreement if the tenancy is due to last for longer than one year. If you don't have a tenancy agreement, you have basic rights that have been set out in law. 

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract, just like a contract for a mobile phone or broadband service. Once you sign or commit to a tenancy you are obliged to continue paying rent until either the landlord agrees to end the contract, the contract comes to a natural end and you have indicated that you do not wish it to continue, or the property is no longer available for you because someone else has moved in. 

Landlords are entitled to ask tenants to provide a guarantor.  If you are asked to be someone's guarantor, it's really important that you fully understand what this means and what you are responsible for.