Long-term renting solutions if you are living with someone
If you are not married or in a civil partnership then your long-term rights depend firstly on whether your name is on the tenancy agreement. If it’s not, you will have no automatic rights to the home, but you may still be able to get the tenancy transferred into your name.
If you need a short-term solution to stay in the home, you could try getting an occupation order through the courts. Both tenants and non-tenants can apply for them, and they can stop your partner from entering the home, enforce your rights to stay, or allow you to re-enter your home if you’ve been excluded.
Different tenancy types
If you and your partner can’t agree and you are considering court action to stay in the home, it is worth thinking about whether your tenancy is worth fighting for. If you rent from a private landlord, it’s possibly not worth the trouble, as you are likely to have an assured shorthold tenancy, and your landlord can evict you quite easily. See the pages on tenancy type to check what sort of tenancy you have if you’re not sure.
There are a lot of benefits associated with council or housing association tenancies, and in many areas they are hard to get, so these may be worth fighting for. Before you decide whether to take court action, read going to court and speak to an adviser.
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If you are the sole tenant, you have the right to stay in the home. However, your partner could try to establish rights to the property as well. In most cases, if you leave the home, your tenancy will end.
If you and your partner decide that the non-tenant should stay in the home, then in some cases tenancies can be assigned. This means the tenancy is transferred solely into their name. Only certain kinds of tenancies can be assigned, so read your tenancy agreement to see what it says, or check with your landlord or an independent adviser.
If you want to end the tenancy then you can give notice to your landlord. This notice is often called a Notice to Quit, and has to be made correctly to be valid. It will end the tenancy for both you and your partner.
If either the tenant or non-tenant go to court , the court can transfer a tenancy from the sole tenant to the non-tenant. In some cases, the court will order compensation to be paid to the partner who leaves the home if they consider that person has lost out financially because of the transfer.
If you are a joint tenant then you have the right to stay in your home. The other joint tenant has the same rights as you to stay in the home. If one joint tenant gives the correct notice to quit to your landlord, the tenancy will end for both of you, so if you think you want to stay in the property it is best to prevent this from happening. If you think there is a risk of your partner serving a Notice to Quit without your consent, you should take urgent advice from a family law solicitor about obtaining a court order preventing your partner from ending the joint tenancy and transferring it into your sole name.
If you and your partner can agree who should stay in the home then one tenant may be able to assign the tenancy to the other. Not all tenancies can be assigned – check whether your tenancy agreement says you can assign, or get advice.
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If you or your partner want to leave the property and bring to an end your obligations as a tenant, one of you can serve a valid Notice to Quit to the landlord. This will end the tenancy for both joint tenants. If no Notice to Quit is served and one partner leaves, then the tenancy will continue for both joint tenants. Both of you remain jointly liable for the rent, so, unless the partner who has left contributes, the remaining tenant will have to continue paying all the rent, otherwise they could risk being evicted.
If you and your partner can’t agree who will stay in the home, then you will have to settle the issue in court. The decisions the court can make will depend on your circumstances, for example your finances, whether you have alternative accommodation, and whether you have children.
If you decide to go to court, the court may decide to transfer the tenancy from a joint to a sole tenancy in either you or your partner’s name. In some cases, the court will order compensation to be paid to the partner who leaves the home if they consider that person has lost out financially because of the transfer.
I am neither the sole or joint tenant
If you are neither the sole or joint tenant, and your partner is the tenant and wants you to leave, you don’t have any automatic rights to stay.
If your partner gives your landlord a Notice to Quit, the tenancy will end for both you and your partner. The only exception to this is if you have a regulated (protected) tenancy, which is quite rare. If you think your partner is going to give notice to the landlord, and you want to stay in the property, speak to an adviser immediately.
If the sole tenant leaves, or gives notice, in nearly all cases the tenancy will come to an end and the non-tenant will have to leave. However, in most cases your landlord will have to get a court order for possession, so you should receive a letter detailing the date you have to leave.
If you have children
Tenancies can be transferred from one cohabitant to the other if the court decides it’s for the good of the children. Whether the tenancy will be transferred depends on the rules of that type of tenancy (eg whether it can be assigned) and whether the landlord agrees to the transfer. The court will not consider details that relate specifically to the parents of the child, eg how long they have been in a relationship.
You will need to speak to an adviser to transfer a tenancy in this way. The adviser is likely to tell you that you will also need the help of a family law solicitor.