Going through a relationship breakdown is never easy, and the last thing you want to do is worry about your housing situation. And things can be even more complicated when you share a property with your partner and you can't agree on who will live where following a split.
If you find yourself in this situation, your housing rights will depend on whether you are married or in a civil partnership and whether you rent or own your home.
In this article we'll explore your rights, what might happen to your home, and how you can seek legal help if needed.
Housing rights & relationship breakdowns
When it comes to housing rights in the UK, your relationship status and your housing situation matter:
If you own your home
If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you have matrimonial home rights, which means you have the right to stay in the family home until your divorce is finalised.
If you have joint ownership
If both you and your partner are on the title deeds, you both have a legal right to the property. In case of a breakup, the law generally favours an equal split in regards to the financial settlement, but this can be adjusted depending on various factors like financial contributions and child arrangements.
Your ex-partner owns the home and you're not on the title deeds
If your partner owns the home and you’re not on the deeds, you can register your home rights with the land registry if you’re married or in a civil partnership. This will stop your ex-partner from selling the house or forcing you out until you’ve sorted out an agreement and your divorce or dissolution is finalised.
If you’re not married or in a civil partnership, you do not have home rights. If you and your ex-partner can’t reach an agreement about your housing situation post-breakup, you may be able to take the matter to court and argue that you have a right to the home if you have contributed to it financially.
If this is a route you are considering, it’s important to seek help from an experienced solicitor. Proving your contribution to the home, and therefore your right to ‘beneficial interest’ can be difficult, and a family law solicitor can help you understand the strength of your case and help you present it in court.
You own the home and your partner isn't on the title deeds
Similarly, if you own the home and your partner isn’t on the title deeds, their rights to the home depend on factors such as your marital status and how much they may have contributed to the house financially. As above, if an ex-partner can prove they have a ‘beneficial interest,’ they may have a right to the home despite not being on the title deeds.
Housing rights of renters when relationships breakdown
If you and your partner rent a property, you’ll likely have a tenancy agreement in place with a landlord. How you deal with your housing situation after a relationship breakdown will depend on the tenancy agreement and whether you are legally classed as a tenant.
If both you and your partner are on the tenancy agreement, you both have equal rights and responsibilities. This means you both have the right to stay, or return if one of you moves out and the tenancy agreement is not updated. It also means that both of you are still expected to pay rent, even if one of you moves out.
It is possible to remove an ex-partner from a joint tenancy with an application to the court for a ‘transfer or tenancy’. But before considering this route you should try and see if you can come to an agreement with your ex-partner to do this outside of court.
Tenancy in your name
If the tenancy agreement is in your name alone, you have a legal right to stay. If you would like to leave, but your partner wants to stay, you can ask your landlord to change the name of the tenancy agreement.
If your landlord refuses this or your tenancy agreement doesn’t allow it, you may need to go to court to get a transfer of tenancy. However, there are certain situations where it might not be worthwhile doing so.
Instead, how you go about doing this depends on the type of tenancy agreement you have and how close your tenancy is to ending.
Tenancy in your partner's name
Similarly, if the tenancy is in your partner's name, you may be able to get an assignment and change the tenancy agreement to your name, if your ex-partner wants to leave.
Can my partner claim half of my house if we split up?
Whether your partner can claim half of your house if you split up depends on several factors, including your legal relationship status, your financial contributions, and any agreements you've made.
Marriage or Civil Partnership
If you're married or in a civil partnership, your partner generally has a stronger claim to your property. In such cases, the law aims for a fair division of assets, including the family home. Your partner may be entitled to a share of the property's value, and this could mean close to half, especially if both of you contributed to the home financially during the relationship.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership, the legal situation is different and depends if:
You and your partner have a legal agreement or a cohabitation agreement in place that specifies how property should be divided in the event of a breakup, the terms of this agreement would usually be upheld, provided it's legally sound and fair;
You have children. The welfare of dependent children is a top priority for the courts. They will consider the best interests of the children when determining how property is divided should the case go through the family court process.
It's essential to remember that every situation is unique, and outcomes will change based on the specific circumstances and the decisions made by you and your partner during your time together.
If you find yourself in this situation, and particularly where you may want to challenge an unfair divorce settlement, it's advisable to seek legal advice to understand your rights and responsibilities fully.
In any case, a fair and amicable resolution is often in the best interest of both parties, as going to court can be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally taxing. Seeking legal advice or family mediation services can help you and your partner come to an agreement that works for both of you and, if applicable, any children involved.
Can I get help with housing if I leave my partner?
Yes, you can get help with housing if you decide to leave your partner, especially if your housing situation becomes uncertain due to the breakup. There are several organisations that offer help and advice with housing, like:
Your local council
Refuges and charities
Can my landlord kick me out if my partner leaves?
Generally, your landlord cannot remove you from the property without following the proper legal eviction process. If your partner leaves, your rights will depend on your tenancy type, as explained above.
Seeking legal help following a relationship breakdown
Dealing with a relationship breakdown is challenging. In these situations, the key is to know your rights, seek help, and try to find an amicable resolution if possible.
You can reach out to organisations like Citizens Advice or Shelter for initial guidance. In many cases, problems can be resolved quickly through alternative dispute resolution, which can save you time and stress.
At Lawhive, our team of expert family law solicitors is ready to assist you with your family matter. Whether you need advice on housing rights, divorce proceedings, or financial settlements, we're here to help.
To get started, tell us about your case, and we will match you with the best solicitor for your situation as quickly as possible. This way, you can begin working towards a resolution and a fresh start. Your home is your sanctuary, and knowing your housing rights can help ensure that you have a stable place to rebuild your life after a breakup.