Housing Rights

When you first split up with someone, you will have to decide if you want to stay in the home or find somewhere else. Your options depend on whether you have anywhere else to stay, your rights to the home, and your financial situation.

Use Shelter's relationship breakdown checker to see what your rights might be.

Housing options after relationship breakdown

When you first split up from a partner, your options are likely to be:

  • staying in the home while your partner moves out
  • your partner stays in the house, and you move out
  • you both leave and get new places
  • you carry on living together in the same house, but as separate households (in other words, not as a couple).

It may be that in the short-term you need to leave your home, but would like to return to it later. Or you may want to stay in the home for the time being, but move out when you've decided where to go.

The options you choose depend on whether you have children, your financial situation, if there's anywhere else you could live, and the legal rights you have to your home. Longer-term plans will depend on whether you rent or own your home.

How to decide who should stay in the family home

The question of who stays in the family home depends on whether it's affordable and your personal circumstances, for example:

  • whether you are married or in a civil partnership
  • whether you have children
  • what other housing options might be available.

If possible, discussing these issues with your partner and coming to a mutual agreement can avoid a long and costly legal process. If you need help to discuss your options, mediation and/or counselling can provide a neutral third party to help you see the other person's point of view.

Pros and cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to staying on in the home if your partner moves out. On the plus side, you won't have to undergo the upheaval of moving home - which could be away from your work, family and friends, and schools if you have children. Without your partner, however, the home could be too large and/or expensive for you to run on your own. It may also be harder to make a fresh start if you are still living in the home you shared together.

Sharing the home

Through discussion, mediation and negotiation with your partner, or by going to court, it might be possible for you to share the home, either on a short or long-term basis. This could mean that one person stays in the home and the other has access to it, or that you both live in different parts of the home.

Get advice

Even though you may need to make a decision quickly, it's important to check your legal position carefully. If you want to keep on living in your home, either now or later, you will need to protect any rights you may have to it. The person whose name is on the tenancy agreement, or who owns the home, doesn't necessarily have to be the person who stays there.

In the longer-term, you may be able to get ownership of the home or the tenancy transferred into your name, depending on your circumstances.

Rights to stay in the home

You can only stay in the home if you have a legal right to do so. Your rights depend on: whether you have children, your relationship status, if you are a joint or sole tenant, or owner, and whether you can enforce any rights you might have through the court. Even non-owning partners may be given the right to live in the home by the courts.

For further information, visit the Shelter website.

National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family

National Family Mediation (NFM) services charge £25-£100 for a MIAM, depending on geographical locality, which may include the fee for the completed FM1 form. Meetings usually last for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This includes the means assessment to check whether you will be eligible for Legal Aid, determining whether your mediation will be free or not. Mediation sessions which follow the initial MIAM are charged at a sliding scale according to income, but start at around £80 per session, and usually last up to 1½ hours.

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.

All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.


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