When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Illegal evictions

If you are a tenant, you can only be evicted if your landlord gives you at least 28 days' notice to quit and gets a possession order from the court. If your landlord has evicted you without following the correct procedure, this may be illegal.

Illegal eviction is a civil and criminal offence. Contact an advice agency if you feel that your landlord may be illegally evicting you.

Can I get evicted for complaining about harassment?

If you have a fixed tenancy with a tenancy agreement, your landlord can't evict you for complaining about the harassment, unless he/she proves you have broken the terms of the agreement. However, if you are near the end of your tenancy agreement your landlord can refuse to renew your lease.

If you don't have a tenancy agreement, your landlord can evict you by giving you the appropriate notice to quit. The length of the notice period depends on how long you've lived in the property.  You won't be able to stop the eviction if your landlord goes to court, so it is best if you simply leave before your landlord starts court action as you will have to pay court costs.

Licensees usually have no protection against harassment or eviction. Contact an advice agency immediately if you are a licensee and you feel that your landlord is harassing you.

Can I prevent my landlord from evicting me?

If your landlord tries to evict you without following formal legal procedures, the courts may be able to force him/her to allow you back into your home. The courts can also impose fines and award compensation to tenants in extreme cases.

If you are illegally evicted you may in rare circumstances be able to:

  • force re-entry (as long as it is safe and legal to do so),
  • get an injunction from the court allowing you back home,
  • claim compensation for the losses you have suffered.

Where can I get help to keep my home?

Contact an advice agency such as Housing Rights if you have been evicted and are not sure of your rights. An adviser can:

  • refer you to the Environmental Health Department in your council area,
  • help you negotiate with your landlord or take action against him/her,
  • find somewhere else to live.

Environmental Health Departments in local councils have the power to prosecute landlords who illegally evict tenants. The police do not get involved in cases of illegal eviction unless the eviction is violent. However, it is worth contacting the police if you are illegally evicted so that there is evidence that you can use later if necessary. If you don't feel comfortable contacting the police you may want to contact local politicians or community groups so that there is evidence that you can use later.

The Housing Executive has a legal duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.