Your rights to staying in the home

Whether you decide to stay in the home will depend partly on what rights you have to it. Your rights differ according to whether you are a joint or sole contract-holder/owner, and your relationship status.

Home rights for non-owning or non-contract-holder spouse or civil partner
If one spouse or civil partner is the sole owner or sole contract-holder of the matrimonial home, the other spouse or civil partner has home rights. ‘Home rights’ is a legal term that generally means that the non-owning or non-contract-holder partner can live in the home as if they were the owner or contract-holder.

Home rights for non-owning or non-contract-holder cohabitee (unmarried/not in a civil partnership)
If you are living with someone but are not the sole or joint contract-holder or owner, you will need to apply for an occupation order if you want to get home rights, which would allow you to stay in the home. Home rights will only last as long as the occupation order does. If you want to establish long-term rights to the home, you will have to go to court to prove beneficial interest.

What are the benefits of having home rights?

Home rights give you the right to:

  • pay the rent or mortgage, and
  • live in the home as though you were the tenant or owner.

Home rights usually end if one partner dies, or on divorce or dissolution of a registered civil partnership. A court can extend home rights in either circumstance – if you are in this situation, get advice from Citizens Advice, or a family law solicitor.

Home rights and renting

If your spouse/civil partner is the contract-holder, and their contract is:

when they leave, the contract will continue unless they give a valid notice to end the contract to the landlord.

If you have home rights, the following options are available:

  • if your partner wants to end the contract, there may be action you can take to stop them
  • if your landlord is seeking possession of your home, you could apply to postpone court proceedings (while you gather information to respond to the landlord’s action).

If your partner’s contract is a standard contract with a private landlord, the landlord can usually evict you by serving six months’ notice, and does not need to have a reason for doing so. See the page on eviction by a private landlord. It’s sensible to keep this in mind when deciding whether to apply for home rights.

Home rights and ownership

If you’ve registered your home rights, the mortgage lender would have to advise you of any court action your partner might intend to take. In some cases, you can take part in legal proceedings to defend possession of your home by the mortgage lender.

Registering home rights

If you are a spouse or civil partner (but are not the joint or sole owner or contract-holder), you may want to consider registering your home rights. Once your home rights have been registered you will be able to:

  • prevent the owner from selling the home
  • prevent the owner from getting loans against the home, and
  • receive information if the home is being repossessed.

If you register your home rights, your spouse or civil partner will be told, and can challenge your application. You can find out how to register your home rights using the website.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

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This page was last updated on: May 30, 2023

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.