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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Being evicted from a protected tenancy

It is much more difficult for a landlord to evict a protected tenant than it is a tenant in a non-controlled tenancy. This is because you have greater rights to stay in the property and can only be evicted on certain grounds. In addition, when a protected tenant dies, a family member who lived in the property with the tenant may be able to inherit the tenancy.

Giving notice if you wish to leave

If you no longer wish to remain in the property, you can issue your landlord with a Notice to Quit.  You must give the landlord the appropriate amount of notice and the notice must be in writing. Think carefully before issuing a notice to quit and get advice on your housing options.  You may not be entitled to as much assistance from the Housing Executive if they believe you are intentionally homeless.

Your landlord cannot issue you with a Notice to Quit unless the landlord can prove one of the mandatory or discretionary grounds for possession of a protected tenancy applies.  If your landlord knowingly serves a Notice to Quit on you without grounds, s/he could be prosecuted for attempting to carry out an illegal eviction.

Mandatory grounds for possession

If your landlord can prove that of the following circumstances apply, s/he can apply to the court for an order for possession of the property.  The court must grant the order in the following circumstances:

  • The property was originally the landlord’s home and s/he gave you or the original tenant notice before the tenancy was granted that s/he intended returning to live there in the future.
  • The landlord was a member of the armed forces at the time the tenancy was granted and gave tyou or the original tenant notice that s/he may in the future seek possession of the property in order to live there.
  • Before granting the tenancy the landlord gave you or the original tenant notice that s/he intended to seek possession of the property on retirement (the landlord must be retired from employment to seek possession under this ground)
  • The property was originally intended for occupation by a minister of religion or a missionary and is now required for this purpose
  • The property was let under a protected shorthold tenancy which has now expired.

In addition, if it can be shown that the property was originally an agricultural concern the tenancy may be governed by the Agricultural Act 1967.  If this is the case, your landlord may be able to show that this tenancy meets one of the mandatory grounds for possession.

If the landlord can show that your circumstances fit the mandatory grounds for possession, s/he can issue you with a notice to quit, informing you of the ground which the landlord is using to regain possession.  The amount of notice which the landlord is required to give depends on how long you have been living in the property.

If you have lived in the property for between 5 and 9 years, the landlord must give you at least 8 weeks’ notice to quit in writing.  If you’ve lived in the property for over 10 years the notice period increases to 12 weeks.

Discretionary grounds for possession

Your landlord may also try to regain possession of a protected tenancy under one of the discretionary grounds for possession.  The court will only grant possession under one of these grounds if it believes possession is reasonable under the circumstances.  Your landlord may need to show that there is alternative, suitable, affordable accommodation available for your use.

  • You are in arrears or in breach of the tenancy agreement.
  • You have caused nuisance or annoyance to the neighbours or have been convicted of using the premises for immoral or illegal purposes.
  • You have deliberately, or through neglect, damaged the condition or structure of the property.
  • You have has deliberately, or through neglect, damaged furniture provided as part of the letting.
  • The landlord has arranged for the sale or re-letting of the property because the you informed the landlord that you intended to leave.
  • You have sublet all of the property without your permission.
  • You were an employee of the landlord and the property is now required for a new employee.
  • The landlord purchased the property before April 2007 and now needs the property for herself/himself or for members of her/his family to live in.
  • You have sublet the property and are charging an excessive rent.
  • The property is on agricultural land which the landlord wishes to sell.

Receiving a Notice to Quit

Talk to an adviser at Housing Rights if you are a protected tenant who has been asked to leave your home.  Your landlord may not be acting legally and you may be entitled to stay on in the property. 

Death of tenant

If the main tenant of a protected tenancy dies, a close family member who lived in the property with the tenant may be able to inherit the property.  This is known as succession and can only happen once for each property.

If there has already been a succession since April 2007, the tenancy is a statutory tenancy, rather than a protected tenancy and it cannot be passed on again. The statutory tenancy comes to an end and the landlord is entitled to regain possession of the property without having to provide reasons.

Talk to an adviser at Housing Rights if you feel you are entitled to succeed to a protected tenancy.