When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Ending your social tenancy

If you decide you no longer want to live in your home you need to formally end your tenancy.  If you just leave without giving notice in writing your landlord could sue you for unpaid rent.

Housing Executive (NIHE) and housing association tenants can end their tenancy by sending a Notice to Quit to their landlord, giving at least 28 days’ notice of the date you’re leaving.  Tenants who rent from a private landlord will sometimes have to give more than 28 days’ notice.

Notice to Quit for NIHE and housing association tenants

Housing associations will sometimes have their own procedures for ending a tenancy.  Check your tenancy agreement or ask your housing officer if you’re not sure what you need to do to end the tenancy.  Some housing associations will follow the Housing Executive’s procedure.

You need to write to your landlord explaining that you wish to end the tenancy.  Your landlord has to receive this letter at least 28 days before you plan on leaving.  Your letter should include

  • your full name
  • the address of your tenancy
  • a list of time you’d be happy to let the landlord inspect the property.

You’ll need to sort out any repairs that are your responsibility before you leave the property.

Paying rent

The tenancy officially ends on the date in your letter as long as you’ve given your landlord at least 28 days’ notice.  You’ll be responsible for paying rent until this date even if you moved out of the property before then.  If you're receiving housing benefit and you've been offered a new tenancy, you might be able to get housing benefit to cover both properties for a maximum of 4 weeks. You won't get benefits paid on two properties if you are receiving help with your housing costs from Universal Credit. 

Risk of squatting

Your landlord might allow you to give less than 28 days’ notice if you have to leave the property before then and there’s a risk that squatters could move in if the property is left empty. If squatters do move in before the tenancy officially ends, you could end up being barred from the housing waiting list for 2 years.

Handing back the keys

You need to give the keys back to your landlord by 12 noon on the last day of the tenancy.  When you hand the keys over ask for a receipt to show they have been received.

Joint tenants

Joint tenants can also end the tenancy by giving Notice to Quit.  If one tenant gives notice the entire tenancy is ended and the other tenant won’t have any right to keep living in the property. If you are a joint tenant and you need to leave but the other tenant wants to stay, ask if you can have the tenancy transferred solely into the other tenant’s name

Ending a tenancy after a bereavement

When a tenant dies and there is noone else living in the property, the Housing Executive or housing association will try to contact the next of kin to clear out the house.  Landlords will normally only allow a week for the house to be cleared as they will be under pressure to move new tenants into the property.  If the property isn't cleared by the date given by the landlord the next of kin could be charged rent for any remaining period.  Talk to an adviser at Housing Rights if you're trying to deal with a tenancy belonging to someone who has died.