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 occupation contract. If it’s not, you will have no automatic rights to the home, but you may still be able to get the contract 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 contract-holders and non-contract-holders 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.

What if we can’t agree?

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 occupation contract is worth fighting for. If you rent from a private landlord, it’s possibly not worth the trouble, as you are likely to have a standard contract, and your landlord can usually evict you without needing to give a reason. See the pages on renting from a priate landlord to check what sort of agreement you have if you’re not sure.

There are a lot of benefits associated with community landlord occupation contracts, 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 get help from Shelter Cymru.

Sole occupation contract

If you are the sole contract-holder, 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 contract will end.

If you and your partner decide that the non-contract-holder should stay in the home, then in some cases the contract can be transferred. This means the contract is transferred solely into their name. The right to transfer the contract to a co-habitee (providing they live with the contract-holder as if they were a spouse or civil partner) is a fundamental term of all secure contracts . If you have a standard contract, check the terms of the contract to see if it can be transferred.

If your contract says that it can be transferred with the landlord’s consent, the landlord can only refuse if there is a good reason. Read your occupation contract to see what it says, or check with your landlord or an independent adviser.

If you want to end the contract then you can give notice to your landlord, but bear in mind that if you are the sole contract-holder your partner might not be able to stay in the home after you leave. To find out how to give a valid notice read our advice here.

If either the contract-holder or non-contract-holder go to court , the court can transfer an occupation contract from the sole contract-holder to the non-contract-holder. 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.

Joint occupation contract

If you are a joint contract-holder then you have the right to stay in your home. The other joint contract-holder has the same rights as you to stay in the home.

If you and your partner can agree who should stay in the home then one contract-holder may be able to transfer the joint contract into the sole name of the other. Not all occupation contracts can be transferred. The right to transfer the contract to a co-habitee (providing they live with the contract-holder as if they were a spouse or civil partner) is a fundamental term of all secure contracts . If you have a standard contract, check the terms of the contract to see if it can be transferred. If your contract says that it can be transferred with the landlord’s consent, the landlord can only refuse if there is a good reason. Check whether your contract says you can transfer, or get help.

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 contract from a joint to a sole contract 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 contract-holder

If you are neither the sole or joint contract-holder, and your partner is the contract-holder and wants you to leave, you don’t have any automatic rights to stay.

If the sole contract-holder leaves, or gives notice, in nearly all cases the occupation contract will come to an end and the co-habiting non-contract-holder 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

Occupation contracts can be transferred from one cohabitant to the other if the court decides it’s for the good of the children. Whether the contract will be transferred depends on the rules of that type of contract (eg whether it can be transferred) 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 the help of a family law solicitor to transfer an occupation contract in this way. You can find a solicitor here.

Phone an adviser

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

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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: June 1, 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.