Protection against eviction

If you live in rented accommodation, the law protects you against harassment and illegal eviction. It is a criminal offence for a landlord to harass their tenant. A tenant could claim damages through court action.

Landlord's obligations

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 explained in legislation.

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 in your local council. Alternatively, you can seek advice from an independent advice centre such as Housing Rights , Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor.

Local councils have authority to take court action against a landlord for 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.

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 tell 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 belongings 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 start
  • 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 to begin with and after this period it will become a periodic tenancy

You may contact your local Housing Executive office or the Housing Rights Service 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 on Housing Advice website:

The site is published in English, Polish, Lithuanian, Slovak, Russian and Portuguese.

You can read about renting privately, homelessness, sharing a home, paying for your accommodation and other issues that affect migrant workers:

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