Your housing rights when a relationship breaks down

When a relationship breaks down, there are many things you will need to consider. For some, a divorce will be the only (and often expensive) solution, but for others guidance and mediation can help.

It is usually a good idea to get some specialist advice from a family law solicitor when you first think about separating or divorcing. A solicitor will be able to tell you about your rights, and help you work out what your options are. When you have that information, you can decide the best action for you. One of those options may be asking us to assist you with your housing.

If you own your own home, or have rights to another home, applying for Council Housing may not be the quickest option for you. It is very important that you try to consider the advantages and disadvantages of leaving, when you have rights to a marital home. You should not agree to sell the property without first investigating what would happen if you did sell. Would you have somewhere else to go long term? Would a Council find you to be intentionally homeless if you were homeless?

If you do leave, we may be unable to provide you with emergency housing. As long as it is safe for you do so we will recommend that you return to your home whilst you obtain all the advice and options open to you. Where there are children involved, a solicitor will be able to advise you as to the rights of each parent, and may help you decide what is in the best interest of your children.

For those who rent privately, there are still options available - perhaps the landlord could allow the tenancy to be transferred into one person’s name. You will need to consider working arrangements, and your financial liabilities, what benefits could you claim or maintenance could your partner assist with. Would the landlord allow you to stay if you are going to receive housing benefits?

If you are a joint tenant of a Council property you may need to speak with your Neighbourhood Officer. They may be able to offer you advice on your rights, and what may happen if you leave the property.

For further advice on your rights and information on divorce and separation, solicitors are listed in the yellow pages. Additionally you may find speaking to the Citizens Advice Bureau helpful, or taking relationship counselling. Relate is the organisation which helps with this.

Shelter also has a very useful website regarding many aspects of relationship breakdown and could be of considerable use to anyone who fears they'll be made homeless due to this.

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