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Notice and eviction
If your landlord wants you to leave, they will have to follow certain procedures. How easily you can be evicted by your landlord depends on the type of tenancy you have, and how long you have been in the accommodation.
Most private residential tenancies are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (pdf). A private residential tenancy means a tenancy that is agreed privately between a landlord and a tenant. If you are living in your landlord's home, or if you are renting from a local authority or a social housing organisation (a voluntary housing association or student accommodation let by a recognised educational institution) you are not covered by this legislation. See our document on 'Sharing accommodation with your landlord' for more information on tenants living in the landlord's home and see Applying for local authority housing for more information on the rights of local authority tenants.
If you qualify for Rent Supplement, you are probably renting from a private landlord, so you would be covered by these rules.
There may be a number of situations where a landlord wants a tenant to leave. You can read more about these situations under 'Terminating a Tenancy' below.
Terminating a tenancy
Your landlord must always give you notice when asking you to leave. (Read more under 'Notice periods' and 'Notice of termination', below.) Landlords can ask tenants to leave without giving a reason during the first six months of a tenancy. Landlords can terminate a tenancy that has lasted between six months and four years (a Part 4 tenancy) only in the following circumstances:
- After 3½ years
- If the tenant does not comply with the obligations of the tenancy, for example, not paying rent
- If the property is no longer suited to the tenants' needs (e.g. overcrowded)
- If the landlord needs the property for him/herself or for an immediate family member
- If the landlord intends to sell the property
- If the landlord intends to refurbish the property
- If the landlord plans to change the business use of the property (e.g. turn it into offices).
You should note that if your landlord evicts you for a specific reason and subsequently does not carry out the intention (e.g. to live there him/herself) you can report him/her to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). The PRTB will investigate your claim and take further action as appropriate.
The length of notice depends on the length of the tenancy. Landlords can give less notice if the tenants are not keeping their obligations (28 days) or if there is serious anti-social behaviour (7 days). Anti-social behaviour includes violence, threats or intimidation as well as any persistent behaviour that interferes with neighbours.
If you do not pay your rent a notice of termination may be served, only if the rent due has still not been paid 14 days after you get written notification from your landlord of the amount owing.
Landlords and tenants can agree shorter notice periods but they can only do so at the time they decide to terminate the tenancy. It is illegal to agree a shorter notice period at the start of the tenancy. Landlords and tenants can also agree longer notice periods but the maximum is 70 days when the tenancy has lasted less than six months.
Notice of termination
If your landlord wants you to leave he/she must serve you with a notice of termination. In order to be valid a notice of termination must:
- Be in writing
- Be signed by the landlord (or an authorised agent)
- Specify the date of termination
- State the reason for termination (if a tenancy has lasted more than six months)
- State that any issue with the notice must be referred to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) within 28 days from the receipt of the notice.
The notice can be posted to you, be given to you in person or left for you at the property. The PRTB has published a sample notice of termination (pdf) that includes all of these points.
If your landlord locks you out or physically evicts you, you may be able to apply for an injunction to force the landlord to let you back into the property or you may apply to the PRTB to do so on your behalf. Similarly if your landlord cuts off water, gas or electricity, you may be able to take legal action to restore the supply. In either case, this is a big step and you should get legal advice and assistance before you proceed.
Your landlord cannot remove your possessions from your flat or house without a court order. If your landlord is going to take you to court, you should get advice about your situation from Threshold (contact details below) from a Citizens Information Centre or a solicitor. If you need a solicitor, you may be able to get civil legal aid.