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Home rights if you're married or have a civil partner

Marriage or civil partnership gives you home rights.

Home rights are sometimes called 'matrimonial home rights' or 'marital home rights'.

You do not have home rights just because you have lived together a long time.

You need a legal ceremony to be married or civil partners.

What are home rights?

Home rights mean you can live in the family home if you're married or civil partners.

They give you the right to:

  • live there even if you are not the tenant or owner

  • stay even if your ex tells you to leave

  • get back into your home if you have left

  • pay the rent or the mortgage

You can ask your council for homeless help if you cannot stay in your home.

The council must help if you need to leave because of domestic abuse.

They should not tell you to stay there or go back, even if you have home rights.

Video: Marital home rights

Video transcript

If you're married or in a civil partnership you have home rights.

Home rights mean that if you break up, you still have the right to live in the family home, even if your ex is the tenant or the owner.

Your ex cannot make you leave without going to court.

You also have the right to pay the rent or mortgage if your ex is not paying anymore, so the landlord or lender doesn't evict you for arrears.

Home rights only end when:

  • you're divorced or the civil partnership ends

  • the tenancy ends or the property is sold

  • a court tells you that you cannot live there anymore

You might need to talk to a family law expert about home rights.

You could get free legal help if you've experienced domestic abuse.

Lizzie explains home rights and how they could help you stay in your home if you're married or in a civil partnership.

Where do you have home rights?

You have home rights in a home you have lived in with your married or civil partner.

You also have them in a home you planned to live in together, even if you did not move in.

You do not have home rights in other places your ex owns or rents.

You still have home rights if:

  • you move out

  • the tenant or owner moves out

  • you have not paid any of the rent or mortgage

  • you are not named on the tenancy agreement, deeds or mortgage

If you've experienced domestic abuse

Find out how to make an abusive partner leave.

How long do you have home rights for?

Home rights last until:

  • the tenancy ends, if you are renting

  • your partner sells the property, if they own it

  • you divorce or end your civil partnership

  • a court decides one of you can no longer live there

A tenancy does not end just because the tenant leaves. Your ex or the landlord could take steps to end the tenancy.

Paying the rent or mortgage

You have a right to pay the rent or mortgage.

The landlord or lender must accept payments from you.

You might need to pay to avoid eviction or repossession.

Your ex is still legally responsible for payments if they are a tenant or owner.

Find out:

Help with paying rent

If you have home rights and you are on a low income, you could get benefits to help pay the rent. You do not need to be the tenant.

Find out about:

Changing the name on a tenancy

The landlord cannot just change the name on a tenancy if you split up.

Your ex might be able to assign a housing association or council tenancy to you. This puts the tenancy into your name.

Find out about:

If your ex gives notice to end the tenancy

Many tenancies can be ended with 1 month's notice by the tenant.

Talk to the landlord if this happens. You could ask for a new tenancy in your name.

A council or housing association might agree to this. Especially if it will stop you or your children becoming homeless.

Private landlords will usually ask for proof that you can afford the rent if you stay on.

Stopping your ex from selling your home

Home rights do not stop your ex from selling your home.

But you can register home rights on the property with the Land Registry. This is sometimes called a 'home rights notice' or 'marital rights notice'.

This tells anyone who wants to buy the property that you have a right to live there. It can make it harder to for your ex to sell.

You can register home rights yourself on GOV.UK. A family law adviser could help.

Last updated: 19 April 2024

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