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Housing advice during a relationship breakdown

On this page you can find: 

We provide basic advice and information for people who are going through a relationship breakdown and are concerned about their housing situation. 

Your right to live in the property will depend on whether you are married to your partner, or have a registered civil partnership with legal rights to the home.

Rental advice

You have the right to live in the property if: 

  • you are renting and your name is on the tenancy agreement, either as a joint tenant or as a sole tenant
  • you are renting with your married or civil partner
  • you apply for an occupational order

You may not legally be able to live in the property if: 

  • your name is not on the tenancy agreement, your rights to live in the property will depend on your relationship status
  • your partner moves out and is no longer using the accommodation as their only or main home, the tenancy conditions will be broken, and the landlord can end the tenancy and evict you.

If you have children you may be able to apply to court for a transfer of the tenancy under the Children Act.

Neither you nor your spouse can be evicted from your home without a court order. 

Homeowner advice 

Marriage or civil partnerships

If you are married, or in a registered civil partnership, you have matrimonial home rights which prevent your partner from evicting you from the home without a court order.

The property cannot be sold without your consent. You will need to consult a solicitor to prevent this. 

The court has power to grant an occupation order to the partner who does not legally own the home for as long as it sees fit.


If you are cohabiting with your partner, you may have the right to remain in the property if:

  • you bought and own the home jointly you can apply to the court for an occupation order in the same way as a married couple
  • you have a child from the relationship, the court has power under the Children Act 1989 to transfer ownership or allow one partner occupation of the home if it is in the interests of the child.

If your partner is the sole owner of the property you have no automatic right to remain, but may apply to the court for an occupation order giving temporary rights to remain (this does not apply to same-sex non-owners). 

Occupation order      

Woman with cat

If you would like to stay in the home, you will need to go to court to apply for an Occupation Order

An Occupation Order lasts initially for up to 6 months, after which time you'll need to apply to the court to get your rights renewed for up to another 6 months, which is the maximum for cohabitants.

If your name is not on the tenancy agreement and you don't have an occupation order granted, you won't have a right to stay in the home after you and your partner have split up and they have moved out.

Domestic violence

If you are experiencing domestic violence or abuse, get help quickly. Call the police on 999.

The National Centre for Domestic Violence also provide free, fast and effective legal support to survivors of domestic violence and abuse.

You can apply for an injunction if you’ve been the victim of domestic abuse. An injunction is a court order that either:

  • protects you or your child from being harmed or threatened by the person who’s abused you - this is called a non-molestation order
  • decides who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area - this is called an occupation order.

For more information and resources please read our domestic abuse advice page.

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Legal aid

In the event of a relationship breakdown, people may be worried about how they are going to pay for:

  • Legal advice
  • representation to apply for court orders
  • make a separation legal
  • secure a financial settlement 

Check if you are eligible to get legal aid.

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