Making an abusive person leave your home

You should always feel safe in your home. Find out how to make someone who is abusing you leave and how to stop them coming back.

If someone abusing you leaves the home, you might have the right to stay in the home. Find out how to get those rights if you need them.

Get help with domestic abuse

You can speak to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline at any time on 0800 027 1234.

They have a web chat option if you don't want to speak on the phone.

If you are threatened or attacked, call 999 and ask for the police.

Forcing your partner to leave the home


Calling the police


Domestic abuse is a crime.

If you are threatened or attacked in your home, call 999 and ask for the police.

Otherwise you can contact your local police station and ask to report a crime. The police should investigate any allegation of domestic abuse.

The police have the power to prevent someone returning to your home if they behave abusively towards you or your children.

Going to court to stop someone abusing you

The police can take action to prosecute someone who has behaved abusively. If the police do not charge the person abusing you, you can take action in court to keep them away from you and your home.

There are different court orders you can use. These include:

  • exclusion orders

  • non-harassment orders

Find out about what you can do in court to protect you and your children.

To take legal action yourself you will need to get a solicitor who specialises in family law.

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland.

You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.

Can you change the locks to keep someone out?

Your right to lock someone out of the home depends on:

  • your relationship status

  • who rents or owns the home

A partner will have the right to return to the home and live there if:

  • you are married or in a civil partnership or

  • they are a tenant or joint tenant or

  • they are an owner or joint owner

If any of these apply and you change the locks then this could be an illegal eviction. The person excluded from the property could call the police to enforce their rights to re-enter the home.

Check your tenancy agreement if you rent your home. It may say whether or not you can change the locks.

Staying safe if someone abusing you leaves

If someone abusing you leaves the home, you can make your home more safe and secure.

Women’s Aid has tips for staying safe in your home after someone abusing you has left.

Police Scotland also has advice if you remain in your home. You can speak to the police about how to keep your home secure.

Call the police if someone breaks any court order that requires them to keep away from you or your home. You can also tell your solicitor.

Your rights to stay in the home if someone abusing you leaves


It is important to check your rights to stay in the home when anyone you live with leaves.

You will have an automatic right to stay in the home if you are:

  • a tenant or joint tenant

  • an owner or joint owner of the home

  • married or in a civil partnership with the tenant

  • married or in a civil partnership with the owner

If none of these apply, you may be able to:

  • get the tenancy in your name

  • get an owned house in your name

  • go to court to get occupancy rights granted

These will give you the same rights and responsibilities as a tenant or owner. It means that:

  • you have the right to continue living in the home if the tenant or owner moves out

  • you cannot be evicted without a court order

  • you have the right to defend any eviction in court

  • you have the right and responsibility to pay the rent or mortgage

Occupancy Rights

If you have no legal right to occupy the home but want to remain there, you can apply for occupancy rights in court.

These can last up to six months.

Applying for occupancy rights can protect you from being evicted.

It can also give you the time to make other arrangements, such as:

  • getting the tenancy in your name

  • getting an owned property transferred to you

  • finding somewhere else to live if you decide to move out

You will need to speak to a family law solicitor to apply for occupancy rights in court.

To find a family law solicitor, search on the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Legal Aid Board websites.

There may be law centres in your area who can also help. Law centres can help with legal advice and representation.

Get the tenancy in your name

If your partner leaves you can ask your landlord for the tenancy to be put in your name. This is sometimes called assignation.

Private renting - get the tenancy in your name

You and your partner are both named tenants

You and your partner will need to ask the landlord to get the tenancy in your name only.

Your partner is the only tenant

If your partner is leaving and wants to give the tenancy to you they must ask the landlord for permission.

In either case, the landlord can choose whether to put the tenancy in your name. They only have to do so if it says in the tenancy agreement.

If the landlord refuses to do this then you may have to find somewhere else to stay or make a homeless application to the council.

Renting from the council or housing association - get the tenancy in your name

You and your partner are both named tenants

If you are already a tenant you can ask for a joint tenancy to be put in your name only.

The tenant leaving must give their permission for this to happen.

Your partner is the only tenant

If your partner is the only tenant then they must ask the landlord for the tenancy to be given to you.

You must have lived in the home for at least 12 months. If you have not lived there for 12 months then you do not qualify to take over the tenancy.

This 12-month period only begins when the council or housing association are told that you are living there.

Get advice if your landlord says you cannot take over the tenancy. Speak to a housing adviser at Shelter Scotland or a solicitor who specialises in housing law.

This decision can sometimes be appealed or even challenged in court.

Get an owned house in your name

If your home is owned and your partner is moving out, you can apply to get the property put in your name.

This can be complex and could take time. You will need to speak to a family law solicitor to get the property transferred to you. You may also need to go to court.

If you have a mortgage, the mortgage lender will also need to agree to the transfer.

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland.

You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.

Paying for a solicitor or court costs

Legal action can be expensive. You may be entitled to some financial help. This is called legal aid.

You can check if you qualify for this on the Scottish Legal Aid Board website or by asking your solicitor.

If you can't stay in the home when someone leaves

If you can’t stay in the home after an abusive partner leaves, then you may need to look at other housing options.

Make a homeless application to the council.

Get information on finding somewhere else to live.

Contact a housing adviser at Shelter Scotland if you need to discuss where you will live in the future.

Last updated: 28 June 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England