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Housing and relationship breakdown

If both names are on the tenancy

If you rent a property and both you and your partner have signed the tenancy agreement then you will be joint tenants. If you have not signed an agreement but entered into a verbal contract with your landlord at the same time as your partner you are likely to be a joint tenant but you need to take expert advice.

Your rights as a joint tenant are:

  • you have the right to remain in the property and can only be made to leave by a court order
  • you can only make your partner leave by getting a court order
  • you are jointly and individually responsible for paying the rent with your partner
  •  you are liable for the rent until the tenancy is ended formally, even if you leave the property
  • if you remain in the property, or if you leave the property with your partner left in the property the joint tenancy continues until formally ended.

You can ask the court to make an 'occupation order' if your partner tries to make you leave. This will state who should live in the property.

If your partner ends the tenancy by giving legal notice (which he/she is entitled to do) then this will end the tenancy for you too, even if you did not want to move out. If you think your partner might do this you may be able to prevent it but you will need to take expert advice before any formal notice is given.

If you are married and divorcing or if you were living with a partner, then in the long term you can ask the court to transfer the tenancy into your name. The court will take both your situations into account before deciding whether to do this.

No matter what relationship you are in it might be possible to voluntarily transfer the tenancy into one name if both of you agree to do this. If this is a realistic option you will probably not have to go to court. Whether you can pursue this course of action will depend upon what type of tenancy you have and you may need to get independent advice. It is very important that you use the correct legal method to transfer the tenancy otherwise you might lose the tenancy completely. It is not usually enough just to tell your landlord that one of you is moving out