Minister Ní Chuilín announces extension of legislation to protect renters
Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín is extending legislation to protect private renters from eviction during the pandemic, to 31 March 2021.
The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act requires landlords to give tenants a 12-week notice to quit period before seeking a court order to begin proceedings to evict and therefore reduce the possibility of tenants in the private rented sector becoming homeless.
The legislation was due to expire at the end of September, but the Minister has ensured that the protection is available until next year.
Minister Ní Chuilín said: “The Act was put in place in April to protect tenants from eviction and originally was set to last until the end of September 2020. Having reviewed this, and given the need to prepare for a possible second wave of the virus, and as the various additional economic supports such as the furlough scheme wind down in the autumn, I have decided it is necessary to extend the emergency period.
“This is emergency legislation and will not be in place for any longer than is necessary, but I am committed to protecting our citizens at this time and having a safe place to call home is so central to personal and public health.
“I am therefore asking tenants to ensure they keep communicating with their landlord and discuss any issues they are facing around making payments. I would also encourage landlords not to commence or continue possession proceedings during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so. It is essential that we work together during these uncertain times to keep each other safe.”
Both tenants and landlords are reminded that no one can be removed from their home without a court order. The Department funds Housing Rights to provide specialist help and advice to both tenants and landlords. They can assist to help resolve disputes and save matters going to court.
The Department has issued Guidance (https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/communities/dfc-private-rented-sector-guidance-covid19.pdf) which reinforces the need for landlords and tenants to work together to make agreements to avert evictions where tenants are struggling to pay their rent due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The guidance continues to be updated to reflect the evolving situation.