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Living as separate households

You may find you can't afford to move out of your shared home immediately. If your split has been amicable, you may be able to divide your home between you and live separately.

Strengthen your rights

If you are not married or in a civil partnership and you are not the owner or official tenant of your home, you won't have any rights to stay there if your ex-partner later decides they want you to leave (you can read more about your occupancy rights if you are a tenant or a home owner). Therefore, if you have decided to live separately in the same home, it's important that you make the agreement formal.

We rent our home

If you rent your home but your name is not on the tenancy agreement, you can do the following:

  • Ask your landlord to make you a joint tenant - although bear in mind that this will make you jointly and separately responsible for paying the rent with your partner, which means if they can't or won't pay their share, you will have to pay it for them.
  • Ask your landlord if you can have a separate tenancy - this will mean that you are only responsible for your share of the rent, however, your landlord may not wish to have two separate tenants in the same property.
  • Draw up a tenancy agreement with your partner and pay rent to them as your landlord - provided you have exclusive use of some part of the home (for example, a bedroom), this will make you a common law tenant. As a common law tenant you won't have many rights, but your partner can't evict a common law tenant without giving you four weeks' notice.

My partner owns our home

In this case, you will need to draw up a tenancy agreement with your partner and pay them rent as your landlord. Provided you have exclusive use of some part of the home (for example, a bedroom), this will give you the status of a lodger with a common law tenancy. As a common law tenant you won't have many rights, but your partner won't be able to evict you without giving you four weeks' notice.

What if my partner won't cooperate?

If you are living separately and have exclusive use of some part of the home, it doesn't necessarily matter if your partner refuses to give you a written tenancy agreement: as long as you are paying rent and have their agreement to live there, you will still have legal rights to live in the home. However, if you are not paying rent or making any financial contribution to the home which could count as rent, your partner will probably be able to evict you whenever they like without getting a court order.

What if we're married or in a civil partnership?

If you are married or have registered a civil partnership, you will have a right to live in the family home until you are divorced or your partnership is dissolved, so you won't need to draw up a formal agreement.

Separate your finances

If you and your partner have any joint bank accounts or savings, you will probably want to close them and open separate accounts. If you're afraid your partner will empty an account before you can close it, you can ask the bank to freeze it so neither of you can take any money out. Alternatively, you may wish to continue to use the account for paying rent, mortgage or bills.

If you have any joint insurance policies (for example, contents insurance or travel insurance) you may wish to separate these as well.

Find out more about financial issues if you split up from your partner.

Contact the benefits agency

If you are claiming benefits, you should let the relevant benefits agency know your change of circumstances as soon as possible. If you and your partner are no longer a couple, you may be entitled to more money, but it may be difficult to prove that you have split up if you are still both living at the same address.

Set down ground rules

If the arrangement is to be a success, it's important that you lay down certain ground rules, in particular about guests - will you feel comfortable if your ex brings a new partner into the home? You'll also need to decide how you'll divide up the expenses and responsibilities of running the household. It's probably best to put this in writing, to avoid arguments in the future.

Find out about more things to consider.

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This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • If you rent your home but your name is not on the tenancy agreement, ask your landlord to do one of the following, make you a joint tenant or ask if you can have a separate tenancy.
  • If your partner owns the home, you could sign a tenancy agreement with your partner and pay them rent as your landlord.
  • If you and your partner have any joint bank accounts or savings, you will probably want to close them and open separate accounts.
  • If you are claiming benefits, you should let the relevant benefits agency know your change of circumstances as soon as possible.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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