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Housing

Harassment and unlawful eviction

  • Private tenants

    If you live in private rented accommodation, the landlord usually needs a court order to force you to leave your home. 

    Advice for tenants and landlords

    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

    To contact us:

  • Harassment

    Harassment is any action taken by a landlord, or someone acting on their behalf, to make a tenant leave their home. 

    Examples include: 

    • 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

    Tenants should record the details of any harassment including the date, time and a short description of the incident. Tenants and registered private landlords can contact Housing Rights Mediation Service (link opens in new window) to help resolve disputes.

  • Unlawful eviction

    It is an unlawful eviction 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. 

    Examples of unlawful eviction include:

    • 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 give the tenant a 'notice to quit', even if there is no tenancy agreement.

  • Notice from the landlord to quit your tenancy

    The notice to quit should be in writing. The landlord and tenant should each keep a copy. 

    Depending on the length of the tenancy, the landlord must give their tenant a minimum notice to quit period.

    Length of tenancy Notice to quit
    Tenancy has not existed for more than 12 months not less than four weeks' written notice
    Tenancy has existed for more than 12 months but not more than 10 years not less than eight weeks' written notice
    Tenancy has existed for more than 10 years not less than 12 weeks' written notice

    If the tenant does not leave after the notice has expired, the landlord can apply for a court order from a magistrates' court. It is an offence to evict a tenant without getting a court order, even if the notice to quit has expired.


    Depending on the length of the tenancy, the tenant must give their landlord a minimum notice to quit period. 

    Length of tenancy Notice to quit
    Tenancy has not existed for more than 10 months not less than four weeks' written notice
    Tenancy has existed for more than 10 years not less than 12 weeks' written notice

    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.

    To find out the difference between a tenant and a licensee, go to Housing AdviceNI (link opens in new window).

Public Health and Housing

Cecil Ward Building, 4-10 Linenhall Street, Belfast BT2 8BP

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