Housing rights and options

One of the biggest decisions each of you will have to make during your separation is to work out where you will live. If you are unsure about anything you should get legal advice before making any decisions.

Your housing options

Your options will depend largely on:

  • whether you were married or in a civil partnership, or just living together;
  • who owns your home; and
  • where in the UK you live.

Your options are likely to change significantly once your separation is formalised. And whether your home is rented or owned is an important factor to consider.

We’ve covered some of the most common scenarios below. You can also get more information from the Money Advice Service (external website).

If you jointly own the home you live in

Both of you have the right to return to it at any time unless there is a court order against it.

If you have a joint mortgage then you are both responsible for making the monthly repayments. If you move out of the house this does not mean you are no longer responsible for the payments.

If you are married or in a civil partnership and only one of you owns the home

You both usually still have the right to live there until you divorce or your partnership is dissolved. But your rights can be changed by a court order, and if you haven’t contributed to the purchase of your home you may not be able to stay.

If you’re renting with a joint tenancy

Both of you have the right to stay there unless a court order says you shouldn’t.

If one of you leaves the home the other will be responsible for paying the rent. If you can’t agree on what happens next a court may have to decide.

If you’re renting under the other parent’s name

You may need to get specialist housing advice if the other parent chooses to end the tenancy. You may be able to take over the tenancy in your own name, but this isn’t guaranteed.

If you continue to share a home

You may need to continue sharing a home after separation. You can still do this and be classed as legally separated as long as you don’t share a bed, your meals or household chores.

If you think you may become homeless

 If you’re worried about becoming homeless, contact Shelter (external website) or Citizens Advice (external link) straight away.

It’s important to remember that you still have certain rights.

If you feel unsafe

Where there is a risk to your safety or that of your child then you may be able to get a court order to stop the other parent going into the property.

You may be able to get free legal advice and representation to help you get a court order against your partner.

If you have to leave home because of domestic violence the local council can:

  • find you emergency accommodation
  • help store your personal belongings

You may be able to get a court order to protect your property or belongings.

If you are suffering domestic violence or abuse then call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or ManKind on 01823 334244.

Help with housing rights and options

There are also some other useful organisations who can offer specialist advice.