Renting: Your rights to your home during divorce or dissolution

Money Advice Service

If you rent your home with your husband, wife or civil partner, you will have to work out whether one of you will carry on living in the property or if you can end the tenancy. Find out what your options are if you split up.

Understanding how you rent your home

You have the right to stay in the property while you’re still married or civil partners.

But you also have responsibilities, depending on whose name is on the tenancy.

If the tenancy agreement is in your name

You have the right to remain in your home. You are also responsible for making sure the rent is paid.

If you are a joint tenant with your ex-partner

You and your husband, wife of civil partner both have the right to carry on living in the property.

However, either of you can give notice to the landlord to end the tenancy (unless it’s fixed-term).

The exact rules depend on the type of joint-tenancy agreement you have.

You might be able to negotiate with your landlord so that one of you can continue to live there after the tenancy runs out or the marriage or civil partnership ends.

If the tenancy agreement is in your ex-partner’s name

He or she is responsible for paying the rent. However, you have rights to continue to live in the property while the tenancy exists and while you’re still married or in a civil partnership.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, these are called ‘home rights’.

In Scotland, you have similar rights to these as what’s called a ‘non-entitled spouse’ or ‘non-entitled civil partner’.

If your ex-partner moves out, you might be able to take over paying the rent.

In England and Wales this is something you have the right to do, but in Scotland and Northern Ireland it’s not so clear cut and depends on the tenancy agreement.

Your ex-partner might also be able to transfer or sign over the tenancy to you.

Securing your rights to stay in the home

Your rights to stay in your home might only last for as long as you are married or in a civil partnership, depending on whose name is on the tenancy agreement.

Your rights vary slightly depending on where in the UK you live.

England and Wales

Depending upon the type of tenancy agreement you have and whether your landlord is a private or social sector landlord, if the tenancy agreement is in your ex-partner’s name, and he or she moves out, you might be able to continue paying the rent (to avoid arrears and the threat of eviction).

However, once your marriage or civil partnership is over, your right to stay in the property ends.

Northern Ireland

If the tenancy agreement is in your ex-partner’s name, he or she is liable to continue paying the rent.

However, if, for example, he or she has moved out and is no longer paying the rent, while you’re still married or in a civil partnership you might have the right to live in the property and pay rent.

Talk to your landlord about getting your name onto the tenancy agreement as it will give you more protection.

Scotland

If the tenancy agreement is in your ex-partner’s name, you have the right to live in the home as if you were the tenant and to live there with your children (even if they are grown up).

Your ex-partner cannot end the tenancy without your written agreement.

Securing your rights in court

If you and your ex-partner can’t agree about who should carry on living in the family home, and if the tenancy is in his or her name, you might be able to go to court to secure the right to stay in the property.

If the court agrees, this will give you the right to stay in the property for a specific length of time, or it can help you enforce rights you already have to stay there.

In England and Wales, legal aid is available if you’re applying to the court because of domestic violence, although it’s means-tested.

In Northern Ireland and Scotland, legal aid is still available without the need to demonstrate domestic violence has taken place, and it is means-tested.

When you have the right to take over the tenancy

You might have the right to take over the tenancy from your ex-partner.

  • In England or Wales, it will depend on the type of tenancy you have and what’s in the agreement.
  • In Northern Ireland, you have more rights to do this if you rent from the Housing Executive or a housing association than if you rent privately.
  • In Scotland, if your landlord does not agree to you taking over the tenancy from your ex, you can apply to the court for what’s called a ‘tenancy transfer order’.

However, it is always worth talking to your landlord first because they might be happy to let you take over the tenancy in your name alone.

Making sure the rent is paid

If your name is on the rental agreement, you are responsible for paying the rent.

If it’s a joint tenancy with your ex-partner, you are each responsible for making sure the rent is paid.

So if he or she can’t or won’t pay the rent, the landlord could ask you for the full amount.

Whatever your situation, make sure you prioritise your rental payments.

If you can’t pay your rent, your landlord might try and take steps to evict you.

You might be entitled to Housing Benefit if you’re on a low income.

  • Read more about Housing Benefit on the GOV.UK website if you’re in England, Scotland or Wales.
  • If you’re in Northern Ireland, you can find out about Housing Benefit on the Housing Executive website.

Sorting out problems with your landlord

It’s a good idea to talk to your landlord as soon as you can to show that you have a plan in place to pay the rent, including any arrears.

If your landlord refuses to negotiate, or if you owe rent, contact an advice charity.

Your next step

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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Some important information about Rest Less Money

We want you to understand the positives, but also the limitations of using our site. We operate in a journalistic manner and therefore all information, guidance or suggestions provided are intended to be general in nature, and you should not rely on any of the information on the site in connection with the making of any financial decision.

When we set out to build Rest Less Money, we wanted to be a trusted place where you could find helpful information about financial matters affecting the over 50s. As a free to use resource, we try hard to provide the best information we can, but we cannot guarantee that we won’t occasionally make mistakes. So please note that you use the information on our site at your own risk, and we can’t accept liability if things go wrong.

Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

We do not offer financial advice – As a journalistic site, it’s important to know that we do not provide financial advice. You should always do your own research before choosing any financial product so that you can be certain it is right for you and your specific circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional financial advice from a regulated financial advisor.

No Liability – please note that you use the information on Rest Less Money at your own risk and we can’t accept liability for how you choose to use the information given on our site. We will often provide links to content or products and services available on other third-party websites. These are provided purely for your convenience and we cannot be held responsible for any content, or any of the products and services offered on any website that we link to.

 

Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
Whilst we work hard to try and provide accurate information, deals and prices can change, so whilst they may be correct at the time of writing, providers may subsequently decide to alter them later – so always double check first.

A final note on the Rest Less Community Forums – always remember that anyone can post their opinion on the Rest Less Community Forums, so it can be very different from our own opinion and may not be factual or well researched. Always be wary of any content posted on the forums and be sure to do your own research and due diligence on anything suggested. 

We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

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