Protection against eviction
If you are living in residential property the law protects you against harassment and illegal eviction. It does this by making harassment and illegal eviction criminal offences and by enabling a victim to claim damages through the civil court.
It is an offence for a landlord to:
- commit acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with them
- persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home
For anyone convicted of one the the above offences, the punishment could be prison for up to two years, a fine, or both. The offences are set out in the following pieces of legislation. You can use the links below to find more details:
- Rent (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (Legislation.gov.uk website)
- Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 (Legislation.gov.uk website)
Where should you go for advice?
If you believe your landlord is trying to drive you out of your home you should speak to the Environmental Health Office at your local council. Alternatively, you can seek advice from an independent advice centre such as Housing Rights Service, a Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. Local councils have the power to start legal proceedings for offences of harassment and illegal eviction under the Rent Order. If the evidence justifies it, the council can carry out an investigation and prosecute if they believe an offence has been committed.
The addresses of advice organisations are usually listed in the telephone directory or the local library, or they can be obtained from your local council, or through the links at the bottom of this page.
If physical violence is involved, you should contact the Police.
Your rights as a private tenant
All tenants have five basic rights:
- a rent book (free of charge) - this should include the name and address of the landlord, the rent (and rates if applicable) payable and when it is due, and details of any other payments you should make (the landlord must provide this within 28 days of the tenancy commencement date)
- the right to claim Housing Benefit - all landlords must inform tenants of this right in the rent book
- freedom from harassment and illegal eviction - this could include things such as changing the locks, cutting off your water or electricity supply, interfering with your possessions or threatening verbal or physical behaviour - the law offers protection to tenants in these circumstances, always seek advice immediately - the Environmental Health Department of your local council has powers to investigate such actions
- notice to quit - all tenants have the right to a minimum of 28 days written notice to quit before any court action to evict can commence
- due process of law - if a landlord terminates a tenancy, but the tenant refuses to move out, the landlord can only recover possession through court proceedings
If your tenancy started on or after 1 April 2007 you may have additional rights:
- your landlord must provide you with a Statement of Tenancy Terms within 28 days of the tenancy commencement date
- if there is no tenancy agreement or where any agreement does not identify which party is responsible for repairs you have the right to have certain repairs carried out (the law sets out which repairs the landlord and tenant are responsible for)
- if you do not have a tenancy agreement or the tenancy agreement does not state when the tenancy will end, under the law you have a right to a tenancy that will run for six months initially and after this period it will become a periodic tenancy
You may contact your local Housing Executive office or the Housing Rights Service at Housing Advice NI for more advice. You should also use the link below to check the NIHE website on tenants' rights:
Housing information in other languages
You can find out more about the housing rights of EEA nationals in Northern Ireland by visting the Housing Advice website:
The site is available in English, Polish, Lithuanian, Slovak, Russian and Portuguese. You can learn more about renting privately, homelessness, sharing a home, paying for your accommodation and other issues that affect migrant workers:
- Housing Advice - Polish language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - Lithuanian language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - Slovak language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - Russian language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - Portuguese language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - Romanian language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - Bulgarian language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - French language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - Mandarin language - Housing Rights Service website
- Housing Advice - Cantonese language - Housing Rights Service website