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What to do if your ex partner is not paying rent

You are both responsible for the rent if you're joint tenants.

If the tenancy is one person's name then that person is responsible for the rent.

You might find it hard to get the money from your ex if they've moved out.

You could get benefits to help with rent if your income has gone down after splitting up. Sometimes you can get this help even if you're not the tenant.

Video: Ex not paying rent after moving out?

Video transcript

Your ex is responsible for paying rent if you're joint tenants or the tenancy agreement is just in their name.

But you might find it hard to get the money from them.

Here's 3 things to know if your ex has moved out and stopped paying the rent.

1. If you want to stay, you should pay the full rent each month if you can

Talk to your landlord if you cannot pay on time. They're more likely to contact you about missed payments if you're still living there, even if you're not responsible for the rent.

2. You could get benefits to help pay the rent

You can ask for the benefits you get for housing costs to be based on the full rent if your ex has stopped paying. But benefits might not cover the full rent.

3. You need to report the change if you were getting benefits as a couple

Our Shelter adviser explains what you need to know if your ex moves out and stops paying rent.

Pay the full rent each month if you can

Let the landlord know if there's a reason you cannot pay on time. For example, you're waiting for a benefit claim to be sorted out.

You can ask your ex to help with the rent. But they might say no. For example, if they have to pay rent somewhere else.

Your landlord is more likely to contact you about missed payments if you still live there. They could go to court to end the tenancy or get the money back.

If you're married or civil partners

You have a right to live in your home even if the tenancy agreement is not in your name.

You can keep living there even if your ex moves out. The landlord cannot demand you pay rent. But they must accept it from you if you choose to pay.

Find out more about the home rights of married and civil partners.

Civil partnership starts with a legal ceremony. You are not civil partners just because you have lived together for a long time.

Benefits to help with rent if you split up

Universal credit (UC) can help with rent and other living costs if you:

  • are working age

  • have a low income

  • normally live in the home you claim for

Your UC housing element is the part that helps with rent.

Find out how to claim universal credit.

If you're pension age

You could get:

If you already get housing benefit, you must tell the council if you split up.

Call the Age UK advice line on 0800 678 1602 if you need help.

Benefits may not cover your full rent

Many private landlords do not want to rent to tenants on benefits for this reason.

This should not stop you applying for benefits. You do not need your landlord's permission.

Benefits can still help with rent while you look for somewhere cheaper to live.

Report a change to universal credit

You must tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you get benefits as a couple and:

  • your ex moves out

  • you separate but continue to live in the same home for a time

You can report a change through your online UC account.

Your children can only be part of one person's benefit claim. You can agree between you who is the main carer. If you cannot agree, the DWP decides.

Your UC claims will be unlinked by the DWP and you will each get your own money.

You need your own bank account to get your UC payment.

Find out about basic bank accounts with no credit check.

If you do not feel safe to report the change online because of domestic abuse, speak to your work coach on the phone or at the jobcentre.

You can also get benefits advice from a domestic abuse charity.

Proof of the tenancy and your rent

Show a tenancy agreement or a letter from the landlord when you claim benefits.

Ask for your UC housing element or housing benefit to be worked out based on the full rent if your ex has stopped paying.

Even if you're not the tenant, you could get benefits if you need to pay rent to carry on living there. For example, if the landlord wants to end the tenancy because your ex has moved out and is not paying.

Apply for discretionary housing payments if you still cannot afford your rent.

Where to get help and advice

Gingerbread Advice Service
0808 802 0925
For single parents

National Domestic Abuse Helpline
0808 2000 247
For people experiencing domestic abuse

Find out where to get:

Online information and benefits calculators

Use an online benefits calculator to check what you could get.

MoneyHelper has more on claiming benefits if you separate.

Ending a joint tenancy

Your tenancy does not end just because you split up or one of you moves out.

Your ex can move back in if they're a joint tenant even if they've not been paying rent.

Your landlord cannot just change the names on a tenancy agreement.

Find out more about relationship breakdown and:

Last updated: 22 May 2024

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