We often hear of ex-partners refusing to leave their partner’s property after a relationship has ended. There are a number of issues to take into consideration both legally and financially, which we will cover in more detail. It may not simply be a case of changing the locks – that would depend on the specific situation.
There is a common misconception that cohabitation over a prolonged period of time can lead to quasi-marital asset rights.
This is a grey area because financially this is not true, but from an occupancy point of view, your partner may have a case.
Keep reading and get the facts!
Alert the Authorities if You’re in Danger
The first point to get across is that no matter what the rights of your ex-partner if they have been aggressive or you feel in danger, then it is important to alert the authorities.
If no amicable arrangement can be agreed, then you may need to take out an interdict and/or a non-harassment order forcing them to stay away from your property.
Obviously this is not the preferred course of action for anybody, but where there are potential dangers, you do need to act swiftly.
Only My Name Is on the Deeds, Does My Ex-Partner Have Any Rights?
This is a potentially complex scenario because if you are married, then the property will come under the marital assets umbrella. Therefore, both parties will have equal rights with regards to occupancy and a share of the property.
It matters not whether the other party is actually named on the property deeds; they will have rights as a spouse. As a consequence, you cannot force them to leave the property or indeed change the locks as many people would have you believe.
Even if you are not married, it is likely that your ex-partner will have some kind of occupancy rights which they could clarify through the courts.
This would entitle them to remain in the property for a set period of time while a formal settlement was agreed.
Only My Name Is on the Tenancy Agreement, Does My Ex-Partner Have Any Rights?
As a married couple, again it matters not that your ex-partner isn’t named on the tenancy agreement with regards to their occupancy rights. They have as much right to be in the property as you do and could apply to firm up these occupancy rights through the courts.
The courts would take into account the length of your relationship, time spent living together, and any children would also be considered.
In the event that occupancy rights are upheld by the courts, then we are effectively heading towards a stand-off which might require mediation.
Can I Sell the Property and Start Again?
If the property comes under the umbrella of marital assets, then, if not named on the deeds, your ex-partner can apply to the land registry to block any attempted sale or remortgage of the property.
As a consequence, you would not be able to sell the property without the permission of your ex-partner. In the event that you were able to negotiate a settlement, resulting in exclusive ownership of the property, you would then be able to sell and start again.
Under cohabitation laws, you may have trouble selling the property if your ex-partner has successfully applied to clarify their occupancy rights. They would effectively be a sitting tenant, and it is likely you would need to come to some kind of financial arrangement for them to vacate your property.
Joint Ownership, Children and Occupancy Rights
Assuming one party with joint ownership rights over home has agreed to look after the children, they would likely be afforded a degree of protection by the courts.
In the event that no amicable agreement could be reached the family court may issue what is known as a Mesher order. This is a legal order which allows the individual and the children to live in the property for a predetermined period of time.
This may be until the youngest child reaches 18, or completes secondary education, after which the property could be sold.
Joint Ownership and Occupancy Rights
There is also a different court order referred to as a Martin order which offers the same degree of protection to individuals without children.
Taking into account income, expenses and living arrangements, they may be afforded leave to remain in the property until for example, they decide to move out, remarry or pass away. When the house has been vacated, you can then proceed with a sale.
Should I Take Legal Advice?
Many people will openly advise you to simply change the locks when your ex-partner leaves the property, but this may indeed be illegal. It will depend upon the rights of your ex-partner with regards to ownership and simple occupancy.
Therefore, it is highly advisable to take legal advice as soon as possible, so you know where you stand, what you can and what you can’t do.
In the event that you take action, which turns out to be illegal, this will not be well received by the courts if they are asked to intervene and mediate.
How Can I Organise a Clean Break?
There needs to be some give-and-take on both sides when looking to organise a clean break to allow both parties to start again. What is your ex-partner expected to do if they have limited income, no savings and nowhere to live?
They may be under the misapprehension that the relationship can be saved which is another reason why all parties need to be honest and upfront.
Even if not legally obliged, a degree of financial assistance could go a long way to sorting out what can often be a complex scenario, something that could drag on for months.
The options available when an ex-partner is refusing to leave your home will depend upon the type of relationship, the potential share of ownership and/or occupancy rights.
The idea that you can simply change the locks and prevent your ex-partner from returning to their “home” is flawed in so many ways. There are instances where this is perfectly legal, but there are also instances where it is against the law and can land you in serious trouble.
Check your rights, check your ex-partner’s rights and take legal advice as soon as possible.
How Can The Mortgage Bank Help?
Here at The Mortgage Bank, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading mortgage brokers.
They have already helped thousands of people get the best remortgage deal even people that have been refused before, and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent adviser means they won’t recommend a scheme unless they are sure it is in your best interests. Their advice is also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these brokers who can provide you with a ‘whole market quote’ then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.