Relationship Breakdown

When a relationship breaks down there are many practical issues which need to be dealt with, some of which can have unforeseen consequences. While Tamar can not give you individual advice, the information on this page can be used as a guide. 

For social housing tenants there are a number of factors to consider.  The first one is, who’s name is the tenancy in?

Joint Tenants

If you are a joint tenant, then both of you have an equal right to occupy the property.  You cannot force another joint tenant to leave against their will and they can’t force you to leave either.  The only way you can legally prevent a joint tenant from entering the property is with a court order.

The only way that a joint tenancy can be changed is:-

  • By one tenant surrendering the part of the tenancy voluntarily
  • By the joint tenants agreeing to transfer the tenancy to one or other of them
  • By a court order transferring the tenancy to one party

If you want to give up your part of the tenancy you should consider what the implications of this are.  You may want to get advice from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.  If you do decide to give up your part of the tenancy you should contact Tamar to arrange for this to be done legally.

If you are a joint tenant you will be liable for all of the rent, whether you live at the property or not.

If the joint tenant is preventing you from entering or from staying in the property you can apply to the court for an Occupation Order (Family Law Act 1996).  You should see a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau about this.

Sole tenancy in your name

If the tenancy is in your name only you are the sole tenant and you have a right to occupy the premises unless a court order removed that right.

Sole tenancy in your partner’s name

If you are married and the tenancy is in your spouse's name you have a right to occupy because it is the matrimonial home.

If you are not married and you are not the tenant:-

  • If your relationship is recent you may have no rights in the property
  • If your relationship is long term and you have children together the Family Law Act can be used to transfer the tenancy, usually to the main carer of the children

An Occupation Order may be used to give a temporary right of residence while the long term rights are being dealt with. You should see a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau about this.

Domestic Violence

In all cases if a relationship breaks down because of domestic violence we will not grant the tenancy of the existing property to the person behaving violently. If the person behaving violently is the tenant, we will take action to evict them for a serious breach of their tenancy agreement.

An Occupation Order


  • Require someone to leave the property and give a date and time for them to leave (there may be a power of arrest if the person tries to come back)
  • Reinstate someone who has been locked out
  • Decide who occupies which part of a property

The court will consider the resources, need and conduct of each party before making an order and will consider which party would suffer the greatest harm by being removed. An occupation order is time limited and normally given for 6 months to allow both parties to make arrangements to solve their problems.

If you are married and start divorce proceedings you can apply for the tenancy to be transferred into a sole tenancy as part of the divorce settlement.

If you are not married you can use the Family Law Act 1996 to apply to have the tenancy transferred.

If you have children the court will probably transfer the tenancy to whoever has the care of the children.