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Relationship breakdown and domestic abuse

Staying in your home after breaking up

Your rights to stay in your home are called occupancy rights. These depend on:

  • if your name is on the tenancy agreement

  • if you own your home

  • if you're married or in a civil partnership

You can ask the court to give you occupancy rights if you need to.

Check if you have the right to stay in your home

You have the right to stay in your home if:

  • you're a tenant, including a joint tenant

  • you're married or in a civil partnership with the tenant

  • you own your home, including joint ownership

  • you're married or in a civil partnership with the homeowner

Even if your situation is different, you could get occupancy rights granted in court if you have been living with your partner in their home.

Getting occupancy rights in court

The court can grant occupancy rights for 6 months at a time. This can give you time to:

A housing or family law solicitor can help you apply for occupancy rights. You can find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website.

Putting the tenancy in your name

To put the home in only your name, you'll need permission from the landlord and your partner or ex-partner. If they do not agree, you could get a court order.

Your landlord has the right to check if you can afford your home without the extra income when making their decision. Depending on your income you could get Universal Credit to help pay your rent.

If you rent from a private landlord or letting agency

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

If the landlord refuses to do this you may need to find a new home or make a homeless application to the council.

If you rent from the council or housing association

If you're 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.

If your partner or ex-partner is the only tenant, they must ask the landlord for the tenancy to be given to you. This is called assignation. This can only happen if:

  • you've lived in the home for at least 12 months

  • you told the council or housing association you moved in

The 12-month period only starts when the council or housing association are told that you're living there.

If your landlord says you cannot take over the tenancy, contact a housing adviser at Shelter Scotland or a solicitor who specialises in housing law. This decision can sometimes be challenged in court, but there is a deadline of 21 days from the decision to take legal action.

If your partner owns the home you live in

Your partner or ex-partner's mortgage lender has to agree to put the home in your name, and you'll need a court order. Get legal advice if you're in this situation, as you'll need a solicitor to help you.

You can find a solicitor who deals with family law on the Law Society of Scotland website.

Get help to pay the mortgage or rent

If you're worried about money we have guidance on getting help with housing costs.

Get debt advice as soon as possible if you're worried you can no longer afford your mortgage or rent after splitting up from a partner. There are free advice services that can help you:

Getting help to pay for legal advice

You could get free legal help, called legal aid, from a solicitor or legal adviser.

Pick an adviser or solicitor that takes legal aid. Otherwise you could have to pay expensive legal costs.

Check if you can get legal aid from a family law solicitor on the Scottish Legal Aid Board website.

We have guidance on getting free legal help.

Last updated: 17 March 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England