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What to do if your housing is affected by a change in your relationship

Find out more about what to do if a relationship breakdown is putting you at risk of homelessness in this blog by Foothold partner Shelter.

What to do if your housing is affected by a change in your relationship

The end of a relationship is one of the most common causes of homelessness.

In fact, a study by Shelter and Yougov in 2016 showed that nearly 1 in 3 people who live with a partner fear that the end of their relationship could lead to them becoming homeless. This equates to nearly 5 million people.

If this is a concern for you and you need advice regarding your options, you will firstly need to check what rights you have over your current home.

Check your rights

Whether you rent or own your property, you need to check if this is rented or owned jointly with your ex-partner or whether it is solely in one of your names.

You can check this on the tenancy agreement you signed, or the deeds for the property if it is owned.

Your rights can also change based on whether you are married to your ex-partner on not. For more information on this, see the below section ‘If you are married.’

If you are the sole tenant or owner

If you are the sole tenant or owner, then you may have the right to ask an ex-partner to leave your property.

Again, this may be different if you are married, so please see the below section.

If your ex-partner is the sole tenant or owner

If your ex-partner is the sole tenant or owner, then they may have the right to ask you to leave your home. If you are not named on the tenancy or deeds for the property, then your right to stay depends on your ex-partner’s permission.

Therefore, they could ask you to leave with ‘reasonable notice’ and they would not need to obtain a court order.

If you are married

If you are married, while you remain married, you or your spouse may still have matriomonial home rights, even if one of you is not named on the tenancy agreement or deeds for the property.

Under family law this could mean you have a right to live in the home if you have lived there together as a family. This would normally come to an end if you are then divorced.

If you need further advice on this, you should seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in family law.

If you have a joint tenancy or jointly own a property

If you have a joint tenancy or jointly own a property, then you would both have joint rights over your home. This means you would both have the right to live in the property, and you would both be responsible for any obligations under your tenancy, such as rent payments or other terms of the tenancy.

Unfortunately, this can become complicated when there has been a breakdown in a relationship. Ideally it is best if you can come to an amicable arrangement with your ex-partner, but of course this will not always be possible.

The Shelter website contains useful information regarding common issues where there is a relationship breakdown and you have a joint tenancy. You can read more about this here.

If you have children

If you have children together with your ex-partner, there are many orders under family law that the courts can make regarding rights to live or remain in the family home.

You would need to seek the advice of a family solicitor regarding this and you can search for solicitors in your area here.

If there has been domestic abuse

If there has been domestic abuse or physical violence, then you may need to take steps to ensure your own safety. You can read about this here.

You can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.

If you become homeless

If you become homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless due to the breakdown of a relationship, you may be able to get help from your local council under a homeless application.

A homeless application refers to the duties owed by the local council to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Firstly, the council need to check if you are eligible – this depends on your nationality or immigration status.

They also need to check if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness. This can depend on what rights you have to remain in the property, which is why it is important to check your rights, as mentioned above.

If you meet these requirements, the council should accept an application from you. The council should then do a homeless assessment and agree a Personal Housing Plan with you.

If you need emergency housing

If you need emergency housing as a result of a relationship breakdown, you should first approach the local council to make a homeless application, as above.

The council has a duty to offer emergency accommodation to those who are priority need, which includes people who:

  • have dependent children
  • are pregnant
  • are aged 16 or 17
  • are a care leaver age 18 to 20
  • are homeless because of fire or flood
  • are assessed by the council as vulnerable

If you are not in priority need, the council may be able to refer you to local hostels. You can also look yourself for hostels in your area via Homeless Link.

If you’re facing a housing crisis and are fearing for your and your family’s safety and security, you don’t have to go through it alone. Get in touch today and let’s talk about how Foothold might be able to help.

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