It is possible for the court to make a property adjustment order in respect of a tenancy including a council house tenancy and a housing association tenancy. The court also has power under the Family Law Act 1996 to order the transfer of certain types of tenancies.
Renting in Joint Names
There can be a problem if the tenancy is a periodic tenancy in joint names (one that has no end date) as it can be terminated by either joint tenant giving notice to quit without the other agreeing. If you cannot agree about the tenancy, you may need to get an injunction from the court quickly to prevent your joint tenant giving notice, which would bring the tenancy to an end. Once the tenancy is at an end the court cannot order a transfer.
As a joint tenant you are entitled to live at the property and you are jointly liable to pay the rent and ensure that you do not break the conditions of your tenancy. If you separate and leave the property without dealing with the tenancy you will remain liable for the rent.
If you consent to transfer the tenancy to the joint tenant this may be detrimental to you if you subsequently seek to be rehoused by the council or housing association, as you will be deemed to be making yourself intentionally homeless.
Renting in your Sole Name
If the tenancy is in your sole name, you are the legal tenant. If you spouse’s name is not on the tenancy agreement your spouse will have “matrimonial home rights”. This means that if your spouse is in occupation, your spouse cannot be evicted except with a court order. Such orders are not commonplace and are made usually in drastic circumstances i.e. where there are recent domestic violent issues. If your spouse is not in occupation, your spouse has a right to enter and occupy the home until the Decree Absolute is pronounced. If you are unmarried and your partner’s name is not on the tenancy agreement they have no legal rights and you can ask them to leave unless your partner obtains an order under the Family Law Act 1996.
Renting in your partner’s Sole Name
If you are not the tenant, you can be asked to leave. Your only protection is to apply to the court for an order allowing you “occupation” of the property and a transfer of the tenancy.
Read more about Rent and Tenancies for Unmarried Couples
National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family.
If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.
All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies