Skip to main content

Application for transfer of tenancy

If you and your partner rent your home but your name is not on the tenancy agreement, you may be able to get the tenancy transferred into your name if they move out. If you are joint tenants, you may be able to remove their name from the tenancy agreement and get the tenancy transferred into your name only. If your partner and/or landlord will not agree to this voluntarily, you may be able to apply to the court for a transfer of tenancy.

The page on things to consider has more information on deciding who should stay in the home and what you can do if you can't agree.

Voluntary tenancy transfers

You may be able to come to an agreement with your spouse or partner and your landlord to transfer the tenancy into your name. This means that your landlord will end your partner's tenancy and then issue you with a new tenancy. Your landlord is under no obligation to do this, and may not agree to it if you have rent arrears, or if they don't think you'd be able to manage the tenancy on your own.

Assignation

If your partner is the tenant or you are both joint tenants, you can ask your landlord to assign the tenancy to you. This means that all the rights and responsibilities of the tenancy are given over to you and you become the new tenant.

Make sure you find out from your landlord whether there are any rent arrears before asking for the tenancy to be assigned. Bear in mind that any rent arrears which have built up while your spouse or partner was the tenant will become your responsibility, as well as any outstanding bills or charges. If you and your partner were joint tenants, you will both remain liable for any arrears and outstanding bills, although your landlord will probably expect you to pay them.

Assigning Scottish secure tenancies

If your partner has a Scottish secure tenancy (SST) or short Scottish secure tenancy (SSST) from the council, a housing association or housing cooperative, they can write to your landlord and ask for permission to assign the tenancy to you. You will need to have been living in the property for at least six months beforehand, although your landlord may choose to waive this condition.

If your landlord doesn't reply within one month, you can assume that permission is granted. They can't refuse permission unless they have good reason, for example because they have already started proceedings to evict your partner from the property. If your landlord refuses without good reason, you may be able to challenge their decision in court. Get advice from a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice if you're considering doing this, as an adviser may be able to negotiate with your landlord on your behalf.

Assigning assured and regulated tenancies

If your partner is an assured or regulated tenant, they don't have an automatic right to assign their tenancy. It may say in the tenancy agreement whether or not they have this right. You will need to speak to the landlord and see if they will agree to assign the tenancy to you. Short assured tenants do not have the right to assign their tenancies.

Applying to the court for a transfer of tenancy

If your partner and/or landlord refuses to agree to the transfer, you can make an application to the court to get the tenancy transferred into your name. Get advice from a solicitor at a law centre or independent firm if you are considering this course of action.

If your landlord is refusing to transfer the tenancy and won't accept rent payments from you, make the payments into a separate bank account. This will make it hard for your landlord to prove in court that you won't be able to afford or manage the tenancy on your own.

Who can apply for a transfer of tenancy?

You can apply to the court for a transfer of tenancy if you and your partner:

What kind of tenancies can be transferred?

You can apply for a transfer of tenancy for:

  • Scottish secure tenancies (SSTs) or short Scottish secure tenancies (SSSTs)
  • assured tenancies
  • regulated tenancies
  • common law tenancies.

You can't apply for a transfer if:

  • you live in tied accommodation and your partner needs to live there in order to do their job
  • your home is part of an agricultural holding or a croft
  • your home is let on a long lease (usually at least 15 years)
  • your home is part of the tenancy land of a tenant-at-will (this means you have rented land from a landlord in order to build your own home).

These kinds of tenancies can only be transferred either if you get divorced or dissolve your civil partnership.

When can I apply for a tenancy transfer?

Many transfers of tenancy applications are decided as part of a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership action. However, you can apply for a transfer of tenancy while you are still married, in a civil partnership or living with your partner. You can't apply once you are divorced or have had your civil partnership dissolved.

What does the court need to consider?

The court will consider a number of factors before deciding whether or not to grant you a transfer. These include:

  • how you and your spouse or partner have behaved towards each other
  • the needs of any children you have
  • the needs of you and your spouse or partner and your financial situations
  • whether either of you uses your home in connection with your job or business
  • whether the entitled partner (that is, the person whose name is on the tenancy agreement) has offered the non-entitled partner any alternative accommodation
  • whether you will be a suitable tenant (for example, if you have had problems maintaining a tenancy in the past this can be taken into account).

You will need to tell your landlord that you have applied for the transfer and they will have the opportunity to put forward their views in court. They may object to the transfer if, for example, you and your partner have built up rent arrears, or they may wish to say something to support your application.

What happens if I get the tenancy transferred?

If your application is successful, the court may order you to pay compensation to your spouse or partner as part of the transfer.

If your partner has built up rent arrears, these won't be transferred to you, but any other charges (for example, for repair work, bills or council tax) will be. If you and your partner were joint tenants before the tenancy was transferred into your name solely, you will both remain jointly and separately responsible for paying any outstanding charges or bills.

Transferring a Scottish secure tenancy

If your husband or wife, ex-husband or ex-wife, partner or ex-partner is a Scottish secure tenant, you have an additional option open to you: you can ask your landlord to get a court order to evict your partner in order to transfer the tenancy to you because of relationship breakdown. You don't need to have occupancy rights granted by the court to ask your landlord for a transfer, and this option also applies to people in same sex relationships who haven't registered civil partnerships.

If you are not married, you will need to have lived in the property for at least six months in order to ask your landlord for a transfer, although they may choose to waive this condition so it may be worth asking anyway.

The court will only decide to allow the transfer if:

  • they feel it's reasonable for your partner to be evicted, and
  • your landlord can offer them somewhere else to live.

If the tenancy is transferred into your name, you will become liable for any rent arrears as well. However, these may be waived if you can prove to the council that you were not responsible for building up the arrears.

Will my partner have any right to live in our home once the tenancy has been transferred to me?

If you are married or in a civil partnership

If you are married or in a civil partnership, your partner will still have a right to remain living in the family home once the tenancy has been transferred to you. If you want to keep them away from your home (for example, because they are threatening, harassing or harming you), you will need to apply to the court for an interdict. If you want to get them out of the house, you'll have to get an exclusion order. It's not easy to get an exclusion order from the court and you should get legal advice on this.

However, if you have the tenancy transferred or assigned into your name and after you have done this your civil partner or spouse moves out, they will lose all their rights over the home. This is because the home no longer counts as a 'family home' once they have moved out.

This means they won't to be able to come back and live in the home without your permission. They may, however, be able to apply to the court to have occupancy rights granted.

The laws about family homes changed on 4 May 2006, so if you transferred your tenancy before this date, your partner may have more rights. Talk to an adviser or a solicitor if you're in this situation.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership

If you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not have any occupancy rights once the tenancy has been transferred into your name, even if they continue to live with you. They may, however, apply to the court to have occupancy rights granted.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

The important points

  • If your partner is the tenant or you are both joint tenants, you can ask your landlord to assign the tenancy to you.
  • If your partner and/or landlord refuses to agree to the transfer, you can make an application to the court to get the tenancy transferred into your name.
  • If your application is successful, the court may order you to pay compensation to your spouse or partner as part of the transfer.
  • If you are married or in a civil partnership, your partner will still have a right to remain living in the family home once the tenancy has been transferred to you.

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

Was this page helpful?

This feedback tool can't offer advice. If you still need help, please call our free housing helpline on 0808 800 4444

Would you recommend Shelter Scotland's website to a friend, colleague or family member?
(0 - not at all likely, 10 - extremely likely)


Your feedback is being submitted

Success! Thank you for your feedback.

Sorry, there was a problem sending your feedback to us. Please try again or contact us via the website if this error persists.

The fight isn't over - support us this winter

far from fixed campaign logo
It’s a disgrace that people are still homeless in Scotland today. Join our campaign
It’s a disgrace that people are still homeless in Scotland today.
Support us by running in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Raise money by running the Edinburgh Marathon for Shelter Scotland
Have you had a bad housing experience? Tell us about your story.
Share your story of a bad housing experience
£