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Civil partnerships

Since 5 December 2005, same sex partners can register a civil partnership. This legal relationship gives same sex couples in a civil partnership similar rights to opposite sex couples who are married. This page looks at housing rights for civil partners.

Occupancy rights

As a civil partner, you have the right to move into and remain in the family home. The family home is the property that you and your civil partner live in together, have lived in together or are intending to live in together.

Even if your partner is the sole tenant or owns the home, you still have rights to live in the property. If your partner tries to force you out of the home, you will be able apply for a court order to enforce your occupancy rights. This will depend on whether you rent or own your home.

Rights for tenants

If your family home is rented and you are joint tenants or your partner is the sole tenant, you have the right to pay the rent or council tax without your partner's permission. You are also entitled to ask your landlord to carry out any of their obligations under the tenancy agreement, such as repairs.

If your partner assigns or sublets the tenancy without your permission, you will not have to move out and a new tenant will not be able to move in while you remain there.

If your partner abandons the property, the tenancy will continue as if they were staying there, although you would have to pay the rent.

If you and your partner split up, you can ask the court if they will make an order transferring the tenancy into your name.

Rights for home owners

If you and your civil partner own your home jointly or if your partner is the sole owner, you have the right to pay the mortgage, any secured loan instalments and the council tax, and to carry out essential repairs without your partner's permission.

If your partner rents out or even sells the property without your permission, you will not have to move out and the new tenant or new owner will not be able to move in while you are still living there.

Your partner won't be able to take out a second mortgage or secured loan on the family home without your permission, although they will be able to apply to the court to dispense with your consent.

If you and your partner split up, you will be able to apply to the court for the right to sell the property and divide the proceeds between you.

Exclusion orders

If your civil partner becomes abusive or violent, you can apply to the court for an exclusion order forbidding them to enter the family home.

Benefits

When it comes to claiming benefits, same sex partners who live together are treated in the same way as cohabiting opposite sex couples, regardless of whether they have registered a civil partnership or not.

This means that instead of claiming benefits individually, same sex couples need to claim together.

If you are in a civil partnership and your civil partner dies, you may be able to claim bereavement benefits or state retirement pension using your civil partner's contribution record (although some state pension benefits will not available until 2010).

Ending a civil partnership

If your relationship breaks down, you can apply to the court to have your civil partnership formally dissolved, in a process similar to divorce. The partner who applies for dissolution will need to provide evidence that the partnership has broken down irretrievably. Once the partnership has ended, you and your ex will have a responsibility to provide for each other financially, and to provide for any children you have. The court can decide how your property should be divided and who should stay in the family home. You can find out more about your rights if you split up in the section on relationship breakdown.

Where can I find out more?

You can find out more about registering civil partnerships and the rights this gives you at the following websites:

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The important points

  • As a civil partner, you have the right to move into and remain in the family home.
  • If you and your civil partner own your home jointly or if your partner is the sole owner, you have the right to pay the mortgage, any secured loan instalments and the council tax, and to carry out essential repairs without your partner's permission.
  • If your family home is rented and you are joint tenants or your partner is the sole tenant, you have the right to pay the rent or council tax without your partner's
  • When it comes to claiming benefits, same sex partners who live together are treated in the same way as cohabiting opposite sex couples, regardless of whether they have registered a civil partnership or not.

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