The housing advice charity, Housing Rights, has welcomed new emergency legislation which gives private renters enhanced protection against eviction during the period of Covid-19.

The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020 was passed by the NI Assembly on the 28th April and came into effect on 5th May 2020. The law means that, from yesterday, the minimum notice period a private landlord can give to a tenant is 12 weeks.

Kerry Logan, Policy Officer at Housing Rights, said: “This change in the law is significant and very welcome. In practice it means that private tenants who would normally only be entitled to four weeks notice that their landlord wishes them to leave the property, are now entitled to 12 weeks notice.

“As a housing advice charity, a disproportionate of the calls to our Helpline come from tenants renting from private landlords. While 18 percent of people in NI live in the private rented sector, around one third of the calls to our helpline come from these tenants. Since the onset of this crisis, that proportion has increased to almost half. We are therefore pleased that the Department for Communities has been able to act swiftly to enhance the legal protection available to tenants in this scenario.”

Ms Logan added: “We would encourage anyone concerned about or affected by an eviction to seek advice by contacting our Helpline on 028 9024 5640.”

The new law will apply until September 30 of this year and also allows the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, to extend this period by a further six months in certain circumstances.  

Ms Hargey said: “In these extraordinary times, where a number of people will temporarily struggle to pay their rent, through no fault of their own, they need certainty in the meantime that their homes are safe and that their landlords cannot move to evict them. The legislation will mean that no renter in private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.”

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