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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Your basic rights

This page only contains basic information and is the English version of our translated content.  For more detailed advice and information on housing in Northern Ireland in the English language, use the menu options on the homepage. 

Your rights can vary depending on the sort of tenancy you have and the agreement you have with your landlord. However, there are several main areas where the law gives you rights. Your tenancy agreement may extend your basic housing rights, but cannot reduce your housing rights.

If you feel your landlord is refusing you some of these rights, contact an advice agency.

Right to a rent book

You are entitled to a rent book. Your landlord should not charge you for it. The rent book should tell you:

  • the landlord's name and address,
  • the length of tenancy,
  • the amount of rent and when you have to pay it,
  • if you have to pay rates.

Contact your local council if your landlord doesn't give you a rent book. Your landlord is committing a criminal offence by withholding a rent book.

Right to freedom from harassment and illegal eviction

Harassment includes any action intended to prevent you from enjoying the rights of your tenancy. Harassment includes your landlord:

  • stopping the electricity supply,
  • entering the premises without your permission (apart from in an emergency),
  • carrying out acts of violence against you.

Illegal eviction includes any attempt to make you leave your home when the correct legal procedure has not been carried out. Harassment and illegal eviction are both criminal offences. Anyone found guilty of harassment or illegal eviction can be imprisoned or fined.

The Housing Executive has a legal duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.

Right to at least 28 days' notice to quit

Except in the case of fixed term tenancy where your tenancy is legally expiring, the landlord is required to serve you with at least 28 days' notice to quit. The notice must be in writing. 

The amount of notice your landlord is required to give depends on how long you’ve lived in the property.  If you’ve lived in the property for more than 5 years the notice period must be at least 8 weeks.  If you’ve lived in the property for 10 years or more the notice period must be at least 12 weeks.

When the notice ends,  the landlord must go to court to obtain an order to evict you. The Housing Executive has a legal duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.

Right to due process of law

Your landlord must follow the correct legal procedure before evicting you. Your landlord must:

Your landlord can't change the locks or remove your possessions without giving you at least 28 days' notice and getting a court order. If your landlord attempts to force you out without a court order, contact the Environmental Health Department or your local advice agency  immediately.

A licensee does not have the same level of protection from eviction. For example, your landlord doesn't need to give you four weeks' notice or get a court order before evicting you. You may have to be given a "reasonable time to leave the property"; however this can be as little as a couple of hours. This is commonly known as "packing up" time.

You may be a licensee if:

  • you are living in the same property as your landlord,
  • you are staying with friends or family,
  • you are staying in a hostel,
  • you are staying in student halls of residence,
  • you are a lodger,
  • your accommodation is tied to your job.

Seek advice from Housing Rights or other advice agencies if you are not sure of your rights. An adviser can outline your options and may be able to help you force your landlord to carry out his responsibilities.

The Housing Executive has a legal duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.