Staying in your home when a relationship ends

Knowing your rights and how to enforce them could help you to stay in your home.

Staying in the home after a relationship ends depends on:

  • your relationship status

  • whether you own or rent the home

  • whose name is on a tenancy agreement or title deeds

If the person you live with has died your rights may be different. Find out how to stay in your home when someone dies.

What if your partner wants you to leave

Your partner cannot make you leave without a court order if any of these apply:

  • you are a tenant or joint tenant

  • you are an owner or a joint owner

  • you are married or in a civil partnership

If they change the locks or force you out of the home, this is an illegal eviction.

Call the police if you are illegally evicted. They can help you get back into your home.


You can strengthen your right to stay in the home by:

  • getting the tenancy in your name if your home is rented or

  • getting the title deeds in your name if your home is owned or

  • applying to court to get occupancy rights


Getting occupancy rights gives 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.

If you have no automatic right to stay in the home and your partner asks you to leave, you can make a homeless application. You do not have to be sleeping in the streets to be homeless.

Get help from the council when you need somewhere to stay.

Make a homeless application.

Find out your rights to stay in the home

Is your home rented or owned? Click on what applies to you.

My home is rented

You have a right to stay in the home if:

  • you are married or in a civil partnership or

  • you are on the tenancy agreement or

  • you have occupancy rights granted in court

Otherwise you may have no automatic right to stay in the home. If you want to stay, you will need to go to court to get occupancy rights granted.

Your partner is going to leave

If your partner decides to leave, your rights will depend on whose name the tenancy is in.

Your partner is the only person on the tenancy

If the person leaving is the only person on the tenancy agreement, they can end the tenancy without your permission.

You would then have no automatic right to stay in the home once the tenancy has ended. The landlord can ask you to leave, and may go to court to evict you. If this is happening, tell the council and make a homeless application.

Get help from the council when you need somewhere to stay.

Make a homeless application.

You are a joint tenant with your partner

When your partner leaves and you are both tenants, this does not end the tenancy.

Your partner will still be legally responsible for the rent. This will only end when they are taken off the tenancy by the landlord, or the tenancy is ended.

Strengthen your rights by getting your name on the tenancy agreement

You can get the right to stay in the home by becoming the tenant. 

Before getting the tenancy in your name, make sure you can afford the home. You can speak to a benefits adviser, or get money advice.

Check if you're entitled to benefits

Use the Turn2us benefit calculator

You’ll need information on your household’s:

  • income and savings

  • outgoings, such as rent

  • existing benefits and pensions

  • council tax bill

Get help managing your money

Services that can help with budgeting, applying for benefits, and debt:

Private renting - get the tenancy in your name

You and your partner are both 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 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 council or housing association for the tenancy to be given to you. There may be a form to fill in to get the tenancy in your name.

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 the council or housing association says you cannot take over the tenancy. Speak to a housing adviser at Shelter, or a solicitor who specialises in housing law. This decision can sometimes be appealed, or even challenged in court.

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

Go to court to keep your home

You may need to go to court to decide things. This will help if you and your partner cannot make decisions together.

The court can issue an order to:

  • decide who lives in the home

  • decide who pays for the home

  • exclude someone from the home

Find out what you can do in court to keep your home.

If you can't stay in the home when a relationship ends


If you have no right to stay in the home when a relationship ends, 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.

My home is owned

You have a right to stay in the home if:

  • you are married or in a civil partnership or

  • you are on the tenancy agreement or

  • you have occupancy rights granted in court

Otherwise you may have no automatic right to stay in the home. If you want to stay, you will need to go to court to get occupancy rights granted.

Getting occupancy rights 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

Your partner is going to leave

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.

Get legal help

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Get legal help for free or at a lower cost from a law centre.

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 a relationship ends


If you have no right to stay in the home when a relationship ends, 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.

I stay with friends or family

If you stay with friends or family you will have to leave if they ask you to, unless they are your landlord.

If you have a written tenancy agreement or pay them rent, they should follow the correct procedure to evict you. It will say in your tenancy agreement how much notice you are entitled to.

If you do not have a written agreement or pay rent to friends or family, you should make a homeless application.

By making a homeless application you can:

  • get temporary accommodation and

  • get help finding permanent housing

Get help from the council when you need somewhere to stay.

Make a homeless application.

Last updated: 30 June 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England

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The council must help if you are homeless or likely to become homeless in the next two months.

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