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Rights to occupy the home

This content applies to England & Wales

Rights that married couple/civil partner joint owners have to occupy the home.

Where a married couple or civil partners are joint tenants/licensees, both spouses/civil partners have legal rights to occupy the matrimonial home. Their right of occupation arises because they have a contractual or statutory right to occupy from housing law. Because of this, no special matrimonial rights to occupy are granted to them under the Family Law Act 1996. Their rights will continue for the duration of the tenancy/licence unless they are ended by the tenants'/licensees' own actions, the actions of the landlord, or by a court order (see the page on Resolving occupation disputes and the page on Solutions involving the courts for details).

Both spouses/civil partners are jointly and separately liable for the full amount of the rent, regardless of who is occupying the home. Neither spouse/civil partner can exclude the other without a court order.

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