Skip to main content

Your rights if your partner moves out

This page explains your rights if you rent your family home and your husband, wife, civil partner or partner moves out when your relationship breaks down.If you don't have a joint tenancy agreement where your name is not on the tenancy agreement it may cause problems.

What happens about our tenancy agreement if my partner moves out?

Most tenancy agreements include a condition that the tenant has to live in the property and use it as their only or main home. If the tenant breaks this condition (for example, if they move in with someone else and leave you behind) their landlord can end the tenancy.

If your partner is the tenant but your name is not on the tenancy agreement, you may not have a right to carry on living in the home if they move out. This will depend on:

  • the legal status of your relationship
  • any arrangements you can make with your landlord.

Can our landlord evict me if my husband, wife or civil partner moves out?

If your husband, wife or civil partner moves out of your rented home, you have a right to stay on there, even if your name is not on the tenancy agreement. This is because, as a non-entitled spouse or partner, you have automatic occupancy rights. As long as you are still using the property as your only or main home, this counts as having the tenant living there, so your landlord can't evict you. If your landlord wants you to leave, they will have to go through the official eviction procedure for your tenancy type and get a court order to remove you.

Can our landlord evict me if my partner moves out?

As long as you and your partner are living together as a couple, the tenancy agreement should give you a right to share their rented accommodation, even if your name isn't on the agreement. This is different from having occupancy rights. You should retain this right if your partner is temporarily absent (for example, they may be in hospital or working away).

However, it's likely that this right ends if you split up and stop being a couple. You must check the tenancy agreement for your home to be sure of where you stand.

Whether or not you will have the rights to stay in your home if your partner moves out permanently will depend upon whether you have been granted occupancy rights by the court. You can apply for occupancy rights whether you're in a heterosexual, lesbian or gay relationship.

I have occupancy rights granted

If the court has granted you occupancy rights, you have a right to stay on in the home after your partner has moved out, even if your name is not on the tenancy agreement. If your landlord wants you to leave, they will have to go through the official eviction procedure for your tenancy type and get a court order to remove you.

You will have a right to stay in the home as long as your occupancy rights last. During this time, you can take steps to get the tenancy transferred into your name. Occupancy rights only last for the time specified in the court order (this is usually six months), after which time you'll need to apply to the court to get your rights renewed.

I don't have occupancy rights granted

If your name is not on the tenancy agreement and you don't have occupancy rights granted, you won't have a right to stay on in the home after you and your partner have split up and they have moved out.

If you would like to stay in the home, you will need to go to court to apply for occupancy rights. In the meantime, you can continue to pay the rent yourself. You may be able to get housing benefit to help with this, even if your name is not on the tenancy agreement.

Your landlord is under no obligation to accept rent from you if you aren't an official tenant and you don't have occupancy rights, but if they know that your partner has left and they let you pay the rent anyway, you may be able to argue that they have accepted you as a tenant.

Speak to your landlord if you're in this position and see if you can get the tenancy transferred into your name. An adviser at a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice may be able to help you negotiate with your landlord if necessary.

Can our landlord evict me if I'm a joint tenant?

If you and your partner are joint tenants and your partner moves out, your landlord cannot evict you because your partner is no longer using the property as their main or only home. Your landlord would need another reason to evict you (for example, because your lease has ended or you have broken a condition of the joint tenancy agreement) and would have to go through the correct eviction procedure for your tenancy type. The court would have to decide that both of you should be evicted before it could grant an eviction order.

As joint tenants, you and your partner are both jointly and severally liable for the whole rent. This means that if your partner disappears, you will now be responsible for paying all the rent. If you can't manage this and you build up rent arrears, your landlord may be able to evict you.

To recover the money from your partner, you may be able to get a court order or take your partner to the small claims court. You can find information on how to do this from the Scottish Court Service.

What if my partner ends the tenancy?

If your relationship has broken down and your partner wants to move out, they may try to end your tenancy without telling you. The action you can take to prevent this will depend on your situation.

My partner and I are on a joint tenancy agreement

If you rent from the council, a housing association or housing cooperative and have a Scottish secure or short Scottish secure tenancy, your partner cannot end your tenancy without your written agreement. If they decide to end their own share in the tenancy, this won't make any difference to your tenancy and you will be able to stay on in the property.

If you rent from a private landlord, your partner should get your written consent before ending the tenancy. Unfortunately, your landlord won't necessarily know this, and may be prepared to end the tenancy at your partner's request.

If your relationship is breaking down and you are on a joint tenancy agreement, you might want to explain the situation to your landlord and ask them to let you know if your partner attempts to end the tenancy. If you need to move out for a while, make sure you give your contact details to your landlord. You may be able to arrange with your landlord to transfer the tenancy into your name.

My husband, wife or civil partner is the tenant

If you are married or in a civil partnership, your husband, wife or civil partner must get your written permission if they want to end the tenancy. Unfortunately, your landlord won't necessarily know this, and may be prepared to end the tenancy at the request of your spouse or civil partner.

If your relationship is breaking down, you might want to explain the situation to your landlord and ask them to let you know if your spouse or civil partner attempts to end the tenancy. If you need to move out for a while, make sure you give your contact details to your landlord. You may be able to arrange with your landlord to transfer the tenancy into your name.

My partner is the tenant

If you are not married or in a civil partnership and your name is not on the tenancy agreement, your partner is entitled to end the tenancy without getting your permission. However, if you have occupancy rights granted, you can apply to the sheriff court for an order preventing your partner from doing anything that could affect your occupancy rights. If they then did, for example, end the tenancy without your permission, the court could make an order for them to pay you compensation or 'damages'.

Can I get financial help if my partner moves out?

If your partner moves out, you may find it hard to cope with paying the rent and bills on your own. Depending on your situation, there are several options open to you.

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 husband, wife or civil partner moves out of your rented home, you have a right to stay on there, even if your name is not on the tenancy agreement.
  • If you and your partner are joint tenants and your partner moves out, your landlord cannot evict you because your partner is no longer using the property as their main or only home.
  • If your relationship is breaking down, you might want to explain the situation to your landlord and ask them to let you know if your spouse or civil partner attempts to end the tenancy.
  • If your partner moves out, you may find it hard to cope with paying the rent and bills on your own, you should try applying for housing benefit to help with your rent.

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