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Housing rights of cohabiting joint homeowners

This content applies to England & Wales

The situation of cohabiting couples who are joint owners whose relationship has broken down. Rights to occupy the home under family and housing law. Protecting those rights in the short and long term, and financial issues and considerations.

The section refers to all couples, whether heterosexual, lesbian or gay, unless stated otherwise. For most purposes, lesbian or gay couples that have become civil partners are treated in the same way as married heterosexual couples, and their position is dealt with in the section on Married/civil partners: joint owners.

Relationship breakdown law

Legislation covering relationship breakdown issues. 

What is joint ownership?

A definition of joint ownership. 

Ending joint ownership

How joint ownership can be ended following a relationship breakdown. 

Establishing joint legal owner interest for cohabiting couples

Rights that cohabitant joint owners have to occupy the home 

Occupation orders under Family Law Act 1996 for cohabiting joint owners

Resolving occupation disputes by applying for an occupation order under the Family Law Act 1996 

Staying in the home in the short term

How a joint-owning cohabitant may be able to prevent sale or disposal of the home by the other joint owner. 

Long term occupation options for joint owning cohabiting couples

Ways in which decisions can be made as to who stays in the home in the long term 

Mortgage and loan payments

Other financial issues that may arise on the breakdown of a relationship. 

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