Whether you are working or not, you might be entitled to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs to help pay the rent. Your entitlement is based on your circumstances, including your income and who is living in the house.
If you are a joint contract-holder with any type of standard or secure occupation contract, your contract cannot be ended by another joint contract-holder giving notice.
However, if you have a different kind of renting agreement you should take steps to protect your position and prevent the tenancy or licence being ended by your partner.
This can include applying for an injunction to prevent another joint tenant from serving a notice to end the tenancy or licence (this is called a ‘Notice to Quit’ if you have a common law tenancy). The application can be made in various ways, including making an application when you apply for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, or when an application is made for the benefit of your children. If you need to do this, you will need to get advice from a solicitor specialising in family law.
Withdrawal of a joint contract-holder if you agree
If you are a joint contract-holder along with your partner, and have decided that one of you will leave, the person leaving can ‘withdraw’ from the contract. This is a fundamental term of all secure or periodic standard contracts, unless you agreed to remove this term at the start of the contract because you jointly felt it improved your position to do so.
If you are joint contract-holders with a fixed term standard contract, a joint contract-holder does not have the right to withdraw from the contract unless it contains a ‘contract-holder’s break clause‘. If there is no break clause, the landlord might agree to vary the current fixed term standard contract, or to a surrender of the current contract to replace it with a new contract in the sole name of the person remaining in the property. If you and the landlord are agreeing to a surrender of the contract, ensure that you have written evidence that the landlord agreed to grant a new contract immediately after the surrender.
Exclusion of a joint contract-holder
If one of the joint contract-holders stops living at the property, and does not appear to intend to return, the remaining joint contract-holder may be able to apply to the county court to have the name of the person who has left removed from the contract. Before an application to the court can be made, the remaining joint contract-holder must give a ‘warning notice’ to the person who has left and does not intend to return. This notice must be in writing and give 4 weeks before an application to court is made. The landlord must also be given a copy of the notice. During the 4 week period the person remaining at the home must make reasonable enquiries about whether the other joint contract-holder intends to return.
The court may not make an order to remove the person who has left the home, if that person has left due to the other joint contract-holder’s antisocial behaviour.
If you are a joint contract-holder remaining at the home and making an application to exclude another joint contract-holder, you may wish to seek advice from a family law solicitor.
If you have left your home following a relationship breakdown and are homeless or at risk of homelessness, contact your local council to make a homelessness application.
If you are not named on the occupation contract
If you’re not a joint or sole contract-holder or other type of joint occupier (i.e. not named on the agreement), you may want to establish the right to make rent payments towards the home. This would help protect your interest in the home.