Harassment and unlawful eviction are criminal offences under the Rent (NI) Order 1978.
Harassment covers any action taken by a landlord, or someone acting on their behalf, to make a tenant leave their home.
Illegal eviction occurs when a landlord, or any person acting for them, forces or attempts to force a tenant from their home where the correct legal procedure has not been followed.
If a landlord wants a tenant to leave, they must provide a 'notice to quit', even if there is no tenancy agreement.
The notice must be for at least 28 days, regardless of what the tenancy agreement states. It should be in writing and both the landlord and tenant should keep a copy.
If the tenant does not leave after the notice has run out, the landlord can apply for a court order from a magistrates' court.
However, it is an offence to evict a tenant without getting a court order, even if the notice to quit has expired.
Landlords do not need a court order to evict licensees, who share part or all of a property (usually with the landlord). Licensees are only entitled to 'reasonable' notice before they must leave the property.