Harassment and unlawful evictionUnder 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 Act.
Our public health and housing team can:
- provide advice to landlords and tenants
- investigate complaints of harassment and unlawful eviction
- prosecute landlords who have harassed or illegally evicted their tenants.
HarassmentHarassment covers any action taken by a landlord, or someone acting on their behalf, to make a tenant leave their home.
- interfering with gas, water and electricity supplies
- making threats and instructing a tenant to leave
- entering the property without consent
- refusing to carry out repairs
- making frequent unannounced visits, especially late at night.
Unlawful evictionThis occurs when a landlord, or any person acting for them, forces or attempts to force a tenant from their home without following the proper legal procedures.
- 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.
The following time scales for notices to quit apply regardless of what the tenancy agreement states:
- If the tenancy was in existence for less than 5 years you must receive four weeks notice to quit.
- If the tenancy was in existence for more than 5 years but less than 10 years you must receive 8 weeks notice to quit.
- If the tenancy was in existence for more than 10 years you must receive 12 weeks notice to quit.
If the tenant does not leave after the notice has run out, the landlord can apply for a court order from a magistrates' court.
However, it is an offence to evict a tenant without getting a court order, even if the notice to quit has expired.
Landlords do 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.