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Resolving occupation disputes

This content applies to England & Wales

Different ways in which occupation disputes can be resolved.

In some cases, it may not be possible for the couple to live together, or one partner might refuse to allow the other to occupy the property. Family mediation can help the couple resolve disputes about children or financial matters away from the courts. It is a voluntary process where family members can meet safely in the presence of an impartial and independent family mediator to discuss disputes.

For more information see Gov.uk – Money and property when a relationship ends.

If the couple cannot agree what to do with the property, they will have to apply to the court to resolve the situation. In the long term, for example, a joint tenant may take action to alter the tenancy position without involving the courts under housing law, or the court may transfer a tenancy under matrimonial/family law. In the short term, the court can make an occupation order under the Family Law Act 1996 setting out, for example, who can live at the property or ordering one of the joint tenant cohabitants to leave. Occupation orders are available to joint tenants, joint licensees and their partners.

Occupation orders under FLA 1996

The occupation orders that can be granted under the Family Law Act 1996. 

Eligibility to apply

Eligibility to apply for occupation orders where there is a sole tenancy or licence. 

Joint tenant/licensee cohabitants

Occupation orders where the cohabitants are joint tenants or licensees. 

Former joint tenant cohabitants

Occupation orders for joint tenant/licensee former cohabitants. 

Neither has the right to occupy

Occupation orders where neither cohabitant or former cohabitant has a right to occupy. 

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