Guide

Your home after separation: renting

Last updated: 6 June 2017

If you're married or civil partners

If you and your partner are divorcing or dissolving your civil partnership and rent your home, your options depend on:

  • your tenancy agreement
  • whether you rent from a private or social landlord (housing association, housing cooperative or local council)

Your rights to your home

If you're married or in a civil partnership and you separate, you and your children have the right to stay in your home until:

  • your tenancy ends
  • you divorce/dissolve your civil partnership

This is the case whether your name is on the tenancy agreement or not.

If you rent from a social landlord you should let them know about the change in your circumstances right away, as this may affect things like the amount of Housing Benefit or council tax benefit you get.

If your ex-partner moves out

If your ex-partner moves out, you have the right to stay in your home even if your name isn't on the tenancy agreement. If the landlord wants you to leave, they'll need to go through the official procedure for council and housing association tenant evictions or private tenant evictions.

If you want to stay in the property you'll need to keep paying rent, even if your ex-partner isn't paying their share. Get help if you can't afford to pay your rent.

If your ex-partner wants to end the tenancy

Your ex-partner will need your written permission to end the tenancy. If it's your ex-partner's name on the tenancy, speak to your landlord so they know not to end the tenancy without your permission.

If your ex-partner wants you to leave

Your ex-partner will need a court order if they want to make you leave your home. If they try to force you, this is an illegal eviction and you can report this to the police. You might be able to get an interdict or non-harassment order to stop them acting this way.

Dividing your home

What happens with your home will be decided as part of your divorce/dissolution. If you reach an agreement between you, you can get a separation agreement drawn up so your decision is legally binding.

If you can't agree on what should happen to your home, you could consider mediation to help you come to a mutual decision. If you still can't agree, you may have to ask the court to decide. You may be able to get legal aid if you can't afford your legal costs.

Even if you can agree between you, getting advice and support can help you understand your rights and options when dividing the family home.

If the tenancy is in your name

If you don't want to stay in the property and the tenancy is in your name, you may be able to sign it over to your ex-partner. If your landlord doesn't agree, you could ask the court for the tenancy to be transferred.

Make sure you make any request to sign over your tenancy to your landlord in writing, and get written agreement from your landlord to end your interest in the tenancy. Otherwise your landlord may believe you have abandoned the tenancy and ask you to pay rent after you move out.

If you're both on the tenancy agreement

If one of you wants to stay in the property, ask your landlord if they'll let you take over the tenancy. You'll have to show you can afford to pay the rent on your own. If you rent from a private landlord, they might ask for a 'guarantor' to promise to pay the rent if you can't.

If the tenancy isn't in your name

Unless a court orders the tenancy to be transferred from your ex-partner's name to yours, you don't have the right to stay in the property after you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership.

If your ex-partner's name is on a Scottish secure or short Scottish secure tenancy, they may be able to pass the tenancy to anyone who has lived with them for the last 6 months or more. Your ex-partner should write to the landlord to ask for permission. The landlord can refuse if they have reasonable grounds for doing so.

Ending your tenancy early

If you have started a fixed-term tenancy with a landlord you might not be able to end it early. Talk to your landlord to see what your options are.

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Your home after separation: renting
If you're married or civil partners