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16 April, 2020 Open access

Department for Communities confirms intention to amend notice to quit requirements in Northern Ireland as result of the coronavirus outbreak

Communities Minister says that new legislation will ensure that landlords are required to give tenants 12 weeks' notice to quit before seeking a court order to begin proceedings to evict

The Department for Communities has confirmed its intention to amend notice to quit requirements in Northern Ireland as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Following the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020 in Great Britain - which provides for a minimum three month notice period for eviction for statutory tenants in the private and social rented sectors during the coronavirus outbreak - the Department for Communities says that it also wants to introduce measures in Northern Ireland to assist those living in the private rented sector in the face of the COVID-19 emergency, with a particular focus on financial assistance and prevention of evictions. 

However, as existing legislation in Northern Ireland does not contain grounds for eviction but merely instructs landlords to give appropriate notice to quit periods, the Department for Communities says that it is unable to replicate the approach taken by the Westminster Government, and is therefore seeking to introduce a Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Bill 2020.

Confirming her intention to write to the Speaker with a view to introducing the Bill in the Assembly on 21 April 2020, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said today -

'The legislation I am introducing will further strengthen the protections in place of private renters as it will make sure that no tenant is evicted because of inability to pay rent during this period of economic disruption. The BiIl will ensure that landlords are required to give tenants 12 weeks’ notice to quit before seeking a court order to begin proceedings to evict and therefore reduce the possibility of tenants in the private rented sector becoming homeless'

For more information, see Minister Hargey to strengthen protections for private renters, and the documents relating to the first stage of the screening process for the new legislation, Amend notice to quit through the Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Bill 2020, from communities-ni.gov.uk