New laws governing private tenancies in Northern Ireland will come into effect from 1 April 2023.
From 1 April, Sections 1 to 6 of the Private Tenancies Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 will come into effect and landlords and tenants need to be aware of the following information.
Any private landlord who does not comply with this new legislation is guilty of an offence and the Council can now issue a fixed penalty notice, or if convicted by a court, the penalty will be a fine.
When the law comes into effect from 1 April, private landlords will be required to take certain actions:
Landlord’s Notice relating to the granting of a tenancy (Tenancy Information Notice)
A landlord must provide a tenant with a free tenancy information notice within 28 days of a private tenancy starting. This notice will provide important information about the tenancy, including the amount of rent payable and the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants to help avoid disputes.
Landlord’s Notice relating to the variation of a Private Tenancy (Notice of Variation)
A landlord must also provide a tenant with a notice of variation if there are any changes to the information contained in the original tenancy information notice. The landlord must provide this within 28 days of any changes made and will be free of charge.
Notice regarding past matters
For any tenants who would have received notices under previous Article 4 of the Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 but did not do so because of its accidental removal from legislation and who are still in a private tenancy on 1 April 2023, their landlord must provide them with a free notice regarding past matters and any variations. An exception is when the landlord has already given them a document which contains substantially the same information.
Landlords must provide a receipt to any tenant who pays rent or any payment relating to their tenancy in cash. The receipt must include specific details, including the payment date and the amount paid. A landlord must provide the receipt at the time the payment is made and, where possible, a tenant should only make a cash payment when a receipt is available.
Landlords need to be aware that it is an offence to not provide a receipt or provide a receipt that is late or provide a receipt that contains incorrect information.
Landlords can no longer ask for a tenancy deposit of more than one month’s rent. Landlords now have up 28 days to protect a tenancy deposit and up to 35 days of receipt of the deposit to give required written information to the tenant. If a landlord does not protect a deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme, they could be prosecuted.
The Private Tenancies Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 makes the failure to protect a tenancy deposit a continuing offence and removes the 6-month time limit on prosecution. This means that there will be no time barrier on prosecuting a person who fails to comply with the requirements.
If you have any queries or concerns regarding your private tenancy, contact the Council's Environmental Health service on 03000 132 132 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.