Unmarried and co-habiting in a house owned by your partner – can you be evicted if your relationship breaks down? Our family lawyers explain.

Cohabitants have more limited rights of occupation than married couples, an application can be made under the Family Law Act 1996 which may give rights of occupation for up to 12 months.  The non-owning party can apply for an order for:

  • The right not to be evicted
  • The right not to be excluded from the house or any part of it
  • If out of occupation, the right to enter and occupy for the period specified in the order and for the owner to permit the exercise of that right

If an occupation order is made, the Court can also make further orders regulating the occupation of the house such as prohibiting, suspending or restricting the owner’s rights of occupation, excluding the owner from certain parts of the house or even requiring the owner to leave.

The period of occupation will be as specified in the order and will prevent the owner from evicting the non-owning party during that period.  The order must be limited to a period not exceeding 6 months, but may be extended once for a further period, again not exceeding 6 months.

In deciding whether or not to make an order, the Court will look at all the circumstances of the particular case including the housing needs and resources of the parties; their individual financial resources; the likely effect of an order on the health, safety and well-being of the parties and any relevant child; the conduct of the parties; the length of time they have lived together, the nature of their relationship and level of commitment; whether they have any children together; whether there are any related proceedings.

Please contact one of our family lawyers if you would like to know more about rights of occupation whether as an owner or non-owning party.