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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Process for ending a tenancy

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. 

There is a set legal process for ending a tenancy which can only be bypassed with the written agreement of both you and the tenant. A fixed term tenancy can be ended at the end of a fixed term, while a periodic tenancy can only be ended after a valid Notice to Quit is issued.

If your tenant refuses to vacate the property after receiving a Notice to Quit, you must get a court order for possession of the property before you can enter.

You are not required to serve a Notice to Quit to bring a fixed term agreement to an end, but you should write to your tenants to find out whether they intend to stay in the property or move on. Finding out your existing tenants' intentions will help minimise the risk of void months, where no rent is paid.

If your tenants' original fixed term has expired and they have not signed a new tenancy agreement they have become periodic tenants. You must serve a valid Notice to Quit on your periodic tenants if you wish them to vacate the property. The amount of notice you must give depends on how long the tenants have lived in the property.

Your tenants are entitled to serve you with a Notice to Quit and must do so if they wish to vacate the property. This can happen with periodic tenants or tenants in a fixed term who wish to end the tenancy early. If your tenants leave during the period of their tenancy agreement, you can take court action against them to be reimbursed for unpaid rent.

You must follow due process of law when evicting a tenant. If you aren't careful in following the correct legal procedure you could be found guilty of carrying out an illegal eviction.

A tenancy deposit is the tenant's money and should be returned at the end of the tenancy. The deadline for returning this depends on whether the deposit was protected or not. You can make deductions from this deposit where you have suffered a loss as a result of the tenants' action or inaction. However, a deposit cannot be used to reimburse you against normal wear and tear and any deductions made from the deposit must be justifiable in court.

If your tenants have left the property owing you arrears or have caused substantial damage in the property you can take court action against them. If they owe less than £3000 you can take a case in the Small Claims Court where you will not need a solicitor. Your tenants may also make a small claim against you if they feel you have unfairly kept their deposit.