This page is intended to give you advice about housing if you have split up or are thinking about splitting up with your partner and can only give you a brief summary of your rights and you would be advised to seek legal advice from a solicitor. What rights you have will depend on the nature of your relationship with your partner and the circumstances in which you split up.
Housing rights are normally gained by having an interest in a property. An interest can be gained through ownership of a tenancy.
If you want to seek further advice on your rights you can see a solicitor of your choice or contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter Housing Aid.
Joint owners and tenants
If you jointly own a property or rent a property with your partner, you both have an equal right to live in the property by virtue of your interest. You are both jointly liable to meet the financial obligations on the property such as paying the mortgage or rent and you both have the right to live there.
As such, if you want to leave your partner and you jointly own or rent a property, it is unlikely that we will accept you as homeless because you have a legal interest in the property. You can apply to the court to have the interest in the property transferred to you so that you become the sole owner or tenant of the property. You will need to see a solicitor about this matter. Sometimes, a tenancy agreement will contain a clause stating that a tenancy cannot be transferred to another party without the consent of the landlord. Furthermore, one joint tenant can give notice to end the tenancy without the consent of the other. If this happens, the remaining tenant may find that they become homeless.
If you jointly own or rent a property and you are at risk of violence, we may accept that you are homeless. We will have to assess if we owe you a duty with accommodation and our page on Homelessness advice and support can give you more information about the criteria that need to be met for us to owe you a duty with accommodation.
Married couples and civil partners
If you and your spouse are married or in a civil partnership, it does not matter who actually owns or rents the property. If your partner is the sole owner or tenant of the property, the law recognises that you have an equal right to live there as you are married or in a civil partnership. You will have this right until death or the marriage/partnership is dissolved. As such, if your husband/wife/civil partner asks you to leave because they own or rent the property, you are under no obligation to do so. Again, it is unlikely we will accept you as homeless unless you are at risk of violence.
You can seek an order from the court to have the ownership or tenancy of the property transferred to you. If your partner leaves and you remain in the property, you have the right to pay the mortgage or rent on their behalf. If you are on a low income or benefits, you can claim help with housing costs to help you meet the financial obligations on the property. If you want to seek an order from the court to have the property rights transferred to you, you will need to consult a solicitor.
If you are not married to your partner, what rights you have to the property will depend on what interest you have in the property. If you are a joint owner or tenant, you both have the right to remain in the property, even if your relationship has broken down.
However, if you are not married and your partner is the sole owner or tenant, you do not have the same rights as someone who is married. If you have a child from the relationship, you can ask the court to transfer the interest of the property to you in the interests of the child, but if you are asked to leave, you do not have any automatic right to remain because you do not have a legal interest in the property.