The law gives tenants certain basic rights. Your tenancy agreement can give you extra rights.
Rights of private renters in Northern Ireland
All private tenants in Northern Ireland have certain basic rights. But these rights don't apply if you are a licensee.
A rent book
Your landlord must give you a rent book. The landlord can't charge you for this. This should include certain information, including
- the landlord's address and name
- information about your rent
- if you have to pay rates and how much rates you pay.
The information that must be in your rent book is set out in
- these regulations if your tenancy started after April 2006
- these regulations if your tenancy started before April 2006.
Freedom from harassment and illegal eviction
Your landlord is not allowed to harass you or to hire anyone else to harass you. Harassment is action that stops you from carrying out your rights as a tenant. It can include
- interfering with your utilities
- entering the premises without your permission (apart from in an emergency)
- threatening or aggressive behaviour.
Your landlord has to follow the right process to evict you. It is illegal to try to force a tenant out of a property without following this process.
Notice to quit and eviction
Your landlord must give you advance notice in writing if they want you to move out. You must receive this notice at least 12 weeks before the day you have to leave.
Get advice if your landlord wants you to move out. We can check if you've got the right notice and can tell you about other housing options.
The proper process for eviction in Northern Ireland
Your landlord must follow the correct legal procedure before evicting you.
It is illegal for a landlord to:
- change the locks on the property
- threaten you to force you to leave
- remove your belongings from the property.
Your landlord has to take you to court if you do not leave when your notice period ends. The court can make you pay the landlord's legal costs.
After the first court hearing, the landlord can ask another court to remove you from the property. This second court is the Enforcement of Judgments Office or EJO. EJO staff are the only people who can physically remove a tenant from their home.
Get advice if you are not ready to move when your notice period ends.
Extra rights for certain tenants
You have certain other rights if your tenancy started on or after 1 April 2007. These are
- a default tenancy term of 6 months unless you have agreed a longer or shorter period with the landlord;
- your landlord has to carry out certain repairs unless you have agreed otherwise.
Rights from a tenancy agreement
Your tenancy agreement will usually give you extra rights. Read the carefully and make sure you understand it before you sign it. It's a legal agreement. It is very hard to get out of the contract later if you are unhappy with the terms.
Your landlord has to protect your deposit in an independent scheme. This is only the case if you paid the deposit on or after 1 April 2013.
Your landlord must make sure that
- the property meets the basic fitness standard
- gas appliances are checked every 12 months
- furniture is fire resistant
- your home has a valid Energy Performance Certificate.
Your home should meet extra safety standards if you share it with at least 2 other people and you aren't related. This type of shared housing is a HMO or House in Multiple Occupation.