Housing advice for relationships that have broken down

Find out about the help and advice available to you if you will be homeless due to a relationship breaking down.

If a relationship has broken down, there are many things to consider, including where you are both going to live. If the relationship is amicable then it may be possible to stay in the house while one or both of you find alternative accommodation. In certain cases, legal advice may be required.

In most cases, your housing rights will depend on:

  • whether your home is rented or owner-occupied
  • the legal status of your relationship - married couples and registered civil partners usually have more rights than couples who are living together as cohabitees
  • whether you have children
  • whether there is domestic abuse in the household

Accommodation with children

If you are seeking housing assistance with children and if we have a duty to accommodate, we will only provide accommodation for the children if it is to be used as their primary home - not if they will be housed primarily with another parent.

You should speak to a specialist adviser or solicitor before making any decisions. If you are being subjected to violence or abuse, always call the police in an emergency. Citizens Advice may also be able to direct you to suitable services. Visit the Citizens Advice website.

If you are looking to resolve your relationship issues, mediation is available from solicitors or mediation services - local ones can be found online. You may be eligible for legal aid in certain circumstances. For further information about legal aid, visit the legal aid page on the Government website.

Get advice before you leave

We always recommend that you get advice to help you make a decision about the best thing to do. It is not always easy to find other accommodation quickly and you could find yourself in a homeless situation. There is no guarantee that you will get temporary accommodation. 

If you leave a tenancy with no obvious intention to return, you are risking eviction. If you want to leave your home but think you may want to return to it later, you should try to protect your interests in it.

Paying the rent or mortgage

Whether you want to stay or move out, it is essential to think about how the rent or mortgage will be paid. Falling behind on payments could result in:

  • eviction if you rent your home or repossession if you own your home
  • your landlord or lender taking you to court to force you to pay off the arrears
  • a bad credit rating, which would make it difficult for you to find a new home
  • jeopardising any legal rights you might have to the home - if the property is in your name, whether solely or jointly, you are liable for the rent or mortgage

Whether you will be able to make these payments depends on whether you are the tenant or owner, or if you have home rights and can afford the rent or mortgage. If you do not have home rights and are not the tenant or owner, but want to stay in the home, you may want to see if you can stop your partner from ending the tenancy or selling the home.

Housing options

There are a range of housing options to consider. 

Family and friends

It may be possible to return to family or friends, at least in the short term. If your relationships with family and friends have broken down, it is possible to rebuild bridges.

Social housing

You can complete a housing application for social housing. Paper applications are also available.

Private renting

The main advantage of private rented accommodation is that you will have more choice in terms of location and type of property. We may also be able to give you advice about what is available in your local area and how you can get help with paying the rent bonds and rent in advance. 

You may also wish to start looking at suitable private renting options on websites such as Right Move or Spare Room.

Help with housing costs

If you are receiving a state benefit or on a low income, you can apply for help towards your rent. 

If you are looking to rent a private rented property, the maximum amount of help you can get is set by the local housing allowance. You can find out more on the local housing allowance page on the Government website. If you are under 35, you will only be able to get rent to cover you for a room in a shared house. Further details can be found in our housing benefit section.

How you access all the support is different depending on where you live in North Yorkshire.

Support in the Craven area

Contact us. We can discuss your housing options with you. 

Support in the Richmondshire area

Contact us. We can discuss your housing options with you. 

Support in the Scarborough area

Contact us. We can discuss your housing options with you. 

Support in the Selby area

Contact us. We can discuss your housing options with you. 

Help available from other agencies

Horton Housing (Selby area only)

Horton Housing is a not for profit organisation which provides housing, training and support services to the most vulnerable people in society. 

They provide housing-related support for people with multiple or complex needs who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Support available is around tenancies, budgeting, claiming benefits, helping to secure appliances for a home and much more.

Horton Housing also offers drop in services at Selby, Tadcaster and Sherburn-In-Elmet. To make a referral or contact them, call 01757 241051 or visit the Horton Housing website.

Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors (Selby area only)

Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors are family solicitors with an office in Selby.

Telephone: 01757 708957

Visit the Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors website


Relate is the UK's largest provider of relationship support, and every year helps over a million people of all ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations to strengthen their relationships. If you have lost, or may lose, your home due to the breakdown of your relationship, relationship counselling or mediation may help. If you are still a couple but things are not going well, a relationship counselling organisation may be able to help you to resolve any difficulties or help you to come to terms with splitting up. You do not have to go as a couple. If your partner refuses to go, you can go alone.

Visit the Relate website.

Citizens Advice

North Yorkshire Citizens Advice and Law Centre can offer a range of advice on your rights if your relationship has broken down, for example, whether you can stay in the family home or who the children should live with. 

You can also find out how to deal with things like making a will, registering a birth, changing your name and where else to go for help.

Visit the North Yorkshire Citizens Advice and Law Centre website.