Harassment & Unlawful Eviction

Under the Rent Order (Northern Ireland) Act 1978, a private tenant can only be forced to leave their home if a Court of Law has issued a Court Order.  Harassment and unlawful eviction are criminal offences under the Rent Order (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 as amended by The Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

What is Harassment?
Harassment covers any action taken by a Landlord, or someone acting on their behalf, to make a tenant leave their home e.g. interfering with services such as gas, water or electricity supplies; entering the property without consent; refusing to carry out repairs.

Tenants should record the details of any harassment including the date, time and short description of the incident.

What is Unlawful Eviction?
Unlawful eviction occurs when a Landlord, or any person acting for the, forces or attempts to force a tenant from their home without following the proper legal procedures e.g. changing the locks to a property when a tenant is not at home; physically throwing a tenant out; stopping a tenant from getting into part or all of their home.

If a Landlord wants a tenant to leave, they must provide a ‘Notice to Quit’, even if there is no tenancy agreement.  The following timescales for Notices to Quit apply regardless of what the Tenancy Agreement states:

  • Tenancy in existence less than 5 years – 4 weeks Notice to Quit
  • Tenancy in existence more than 5 years but less than 10 years – 8 weeks Notice to Quit
  • Tenancy in existence more than 10 years – 12 weeks Notice to Quit

The Notice to Quit should be in writing and both the Landlord and tenant should keep a copy.

If the tenant does not leave after the Notice has expired, the Landlord can apply for a Court Order from a Magistrate’s Court.  It is an offence to evict a tenant without a Court Order, even if the Notice to Quit has expired.

What is the law for evicting Licensees?
Landlords doe not need a Court Order to evict Licensees, who share part or all of a property (usually with the Landlord).  Licensees are only entitled to ‘reasonable’ notice before they must leave the property.

How do I make a Complaint?
Contact the Environmental Health Department, 0300 303 1777 for:

  • Advice for Landlords and Tenants
  • To make a complaint of Harassment or Unlawful Eviction.