If you have to leave your home

What you can do if your relationship has broken down or your landlord has increased the rent.

If your relationship has broken down

If you are living with your partner and your relationship has broken down, you need to know your housing rights.

This area of law is very complex, with your rights and options depending on a number of factors such as:

  • if you own, rent private or social housing
  • if this is jointly with your partner
  • if you have any children living with you and their ages
  • if the property was ever defined as the marital home
  • if there have been incidents of domestic abuse where injunctions were awarded

When you don’t have rights

You may not have any rights to continue residing in the premises if your partner has asked you to leave and:

  • your name is not on the tenancy agreement (for a rented property), or
  • your name is not on the title deeds (for an owned property)
  • you are not married

When you do have rights

You are not usually viewed as 'homeless' if your relationship is breaking down. 

If you're married to the owner or tenant of the premises, you may have "matrimonial rights" to carry on living there.

You may be able to submit an application to court to remain in the property for a period of time, if:

  • if you have children with the tenant or owner, and
  • are the main carer of the children

The factors listed above would all contribute to a full assessment of what your housing rights are, and hence what housing options are open to you.

If you need further advice on your rights, you should seek independent legal advice from a solicitor specialising in this area of law.

Your landlord has increased the rent

There are very strict rules about rental increases. These prohibit a landlord from randomly increasing the rental payments.

If you are renting privately, your tenancy agreement will detail the rent you have to pay and when these payments are due.

The tenancy agreement will state a "fixed term". This is the length of the contract, such as 6 months or 12 months. The rental level is fixed for this period. Moreover, when this fixed term expires, the same rental level will apply.

If your landlord wants to increase (or change) the rent level, they must do one of the following:

Issue you a fresh tenancy agreement with the increased (changed) rent level

which you must sign, and thereby agree to. Please note that you are not obliged to sign this new tenancy agreement. However, this may force the landlord to consider eviction. This new tenancy agreement, when signed by all parties, will replace the previous tenancy agreement. Your landlord cannot evict you if your current tenancy agreement has not expired.

Issue you with a S.13 rent increase proposal, as defined by the Housing Act 1988

After the expiry of the fixed term, your landlord could propose a rental increase by using a legally endorsed document. As the tenant, you would have the opportunity to:

  • accept the rental increase, or
  • refer it to the Rent Assessment Committee (Part of the Residential Property Tribunal Service) if you disagree

They are a panel whose job it is to determine fair market rent. You need to be aware that they may determine that the rental value of the property is higher than that proposed by your landlord.

If you disagree with the proposed increase

You can submit an application to determine a fair market rent on GOV.UK.

If your landlord has proposed a rental increase by:

  • issuing you a fresh tenancy agreement, and
  • you need advice on your entitlement to local housing allowance

You can contact the housing benefit department on 020 8770 5000.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

The LHA is the maximum amount of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit you can claim towards your rent. How much you are entitled to will depend on the size of your household, the size of the property and your income.

You can:

If the property is in disrepair

If you are renting privately, your landlord handles certain repairing obligations as set out in S.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as follows:

  • to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including:
    • drains
    • gutters and
    • external pipes
  • to keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water
  • to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of:
    • water
    • gas
    • electricity and
    • for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences)

This doesn't apply to other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity.

If you find a fault

You are responsible for telling the landlord about it. The landlord has a reasonable period of time to correct the fault.

This means taking into account:

  • the type of fault
  • the impact this is having on the family, and
  • the speed with which it could reasonably be expected of the landlord to correct the damage

Certain types of disrepair render a property uninhabitable. In some cases, our environmental health department may carry out an inspection to find out:

  • what the causes of the disrepair are, and
  • who handles correcting the damage

Whether they would visit or not depends on the disrepair. Mould, for instance, is sometimes due to a structural defect in the property, and hence the landlord would be responsible (as per part (a) above). If, on the other hand, your mould problem is due to poor ventilation coupled with drying your clothing indoors, this is likely to be deemed as the tenants responsibility to resolve.

You should always make any complaints in writing to your landlord and keep a copy for your records.

If you feel that your landlord is ignoring their responsibilities with regard to the disrepair, and you feel you cannot continue to reside in your current property, contact environmental health on 020 8770 5000.