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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Dealing with problem tenants

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can call Landlord Advice on 028 9024 5640 and choosing option 5. 

As with any business, being a landlord carries risk. It's essential that a landlord keep professional business records and copies of any communication with tenants. This paperwork will help if a legal dispute arises and you end up in court.

If you suspect that your tenant has abandoned the property, you should be very careful. You cannot regain vacant possession of the property without a court order. You may wish to seek legal advice in these circumstances to protect yourself against claims of illegal eviction.

When a tenant is late with rent or hasn't paid, it can have a huge effect on your own finances. Contact your tenants as soon as possible to discuss any arrears, as there may be a valid reason for them.

Unless your tenancy agreement forbids subletting, your tenant can sublet rooms in the property. If your tenant sublets, the property could become a House in Multiple Occupation or, if it is already a HMO, subletting could lead to your HMO becoming overcrowded.

Tenants who are subject to a fixed term agreement should not move out until that term has passed. However, that may not stop a tenant trying to leave the property before the term expires. If this happens, it may be best to negotiate an exit agreement with your tenant that reimburses you for any out of pocket costs.

Your local council may contact you if it has received reports about nuisance behaviour from your tenants. This will generally be in relation to rubbish or noise problems.

On very rare occasions, criminal gangs may use rented properties as a front for illegal purposes, such as prostitution or cultivation of drugs. If you suspect your rental property is being used in this way, you should contact the police with evidence supporting your suspicions.

If your property is severely damaged, in a storm or flood, it may not be reasonable for your tenants to continue living there. These situations can be difficult to resolve legally, so it's best to negotiate with your tenants to try to come to a satisfactory solution.

If you've been threatened or intimidated by your tenants, you should speak to the police immediately.

If the tenant has caused damage to the property, you are entitled to financial compensation for any repairs you carry out. This compensation can only be awarded by the courts so it's essential that you keep records of any evidence which will support your claim that the damage is the fault of the tenants.