Home > The Legal Process > Becoming Intentionally Homeless: Your Rights

Becoming Intentionally Homeless: Your Rights

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 2 Mar 2021 |
Homeless Intentional Home Spouse

If you walk out of your marriage, and have nowhere to live, are you intentionally homeless? Broadly speaking, it is up to your local authority to prove that you have made yourself intentionally homeless. The council has to make its own enquiries into what happened and in order to prove that you have made yourself intentionally homeless, they have to decide that you have done the following:

  • You did something deliberate, or didn’t do something deliberately, and
  • What you did made you leave your home, and
  • If you hadn’t done (or not doe this) you could have stayed in your home, and
  • In the circumstances, you could reasonably have stayed in your home otherwise.

If some but not all of the four elements above are satisfied, then you are not intentionally homeless in law and the council should give you the benefit of the doubt.

Deliberate Acts or Omissions

This could be one of several things, such as not paying the rent or mortgage when you had enough money to be able to do so, or because you were evicted because of antisocial behaviour; or just because you left accommodation that you could have stayed in if you had wanted to do so. If you were evicted or your home was repossessed because of financial difficulties that you could not avoid, you should not be considered to be intentionally homeless.

Similarly if your partner is responsible for paying the rent or mortgage, and you had no clue that this had happened – you may not be intentionally homeless but your partner could be. If you were evicted as a result of something your child did, as a parent you are generally considered responsible for your child’s actions so this could mean that you are intentionally homeless.

Could You Have Stayed?

This is the key issue for those who have left their homes as a result of the break down of their relationship. You will only be considered intentionally homeless if you left and it was unreasonable for you to do so. This means that if you were being threatened, someone in your household was being threatened (your child, or someone else) or you were suffering violence, you have probably not made yourself intentionally homeless.

Interestingly, a recent court case in the Supreme Court has now ruled that being shouted at by your spouse, if the shouting was sufficient to be perceived as a threat, then you may not be intentionally homeless. In the recent groundbreaking case, the Supreme court ruled that shouting abusively at a husband or wife counts as ‘domestic violence’ and as such can mean that the abusive party can lose their home. In this particular case, the woman had never been physically harmed by her husband, but he had shouted at her, criticized her, and gave her no housekeeping. She was perpetually afraid that her husband would take the children away from her. The court decided that this behaviour was abusive enough to be classed as domestic violence. Needless to say, this ruling has caused quite a lot of controversy amongst lawyers and those working alongside families in social services, amongst others.

The Property Itself

If the state of your property is such as to be seriously affecting your health, you may be unintentionally homeless. This also applies to houses that are of an extremely poor quality in comparison with similar homes in the area, or if you could not afford to live in the property unless you went without other necessities, such as food, heating or electricity.

If you are at risk of losing your home, or if you are considering leaving your home, you should take legal advice without delay. If you are due to be evicted, or you have been told that your house is going to be repossessed, the advice is generally to stay until this happens.

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My husband wants me to leave but I will be homeless as he own the property is there any help out there that could put me in temporary housing as I have no where to go. He says he would get the police on me if I dont leave I'm desperate for help
Jilly - 2-Mar-21 @ 12:12 PM
My wife admitted Adultery and unreasonable behaviour in 2014 after liying saying it was me She turned kids against me and her family I had to leave the Home and fight the courts living in a modile home 6 years on due to covid i am homeless and jobless living in a van on my mums drive Council MP and University Credit cant help as i have a stake in a home worth £500000 with no mortgage I brought it out right after RTA 1994 circumstances have DRAMATICALLY changed for all of us One of the agreements the house could be sold on its 4 beds 2 bathrooms And Apparently only My X wife and 12 1/2 year old Daughter live there I dont have the founds to risk taking back to court for a judgement via a judge to decide no matter that its an open and just case. Many thanks Daren Sykes
Chopper - 14-Nov-20 @ 10:05 AM
Me and my husband haven't been getting on , hes drinking and its getting worse.I've asked him to leave,hes not on the tenancy.He reckons he has every right to be there,he doesn't contribute to anything I pay all the Bill's his included I really dont want to be in the relationship anymore . He has also been violent including to one of the neighbours.HELP
Sarah - 10-Nov-20 @ 8:31 PM
My marriage is broken and has been for some months but the arguments are not getting more frequent and more aggressive. As a result of my trying to keep my marriage going I have lost touch with all friends and family and this has been the case for some years, she also controls our bank account and all incomings. This has left me in a position where I feel my leaving in my best interests to give me some semblance of a.live but also in the interests of my 4 children and 2 step children, 6 in total, who are now being impacted by the relationship with my wife. I have no money or access to my full time wage, no other bank account and no friends or family that I can ask for any firm of help, accommodation or financial. What are my options to end this cycle and try to start again and get some roof over my head and access to my children who I cannot lose? Thank you D
D - 4-Nov-20 @ 12:50 PM
My marriage is almost broke as I see ano anger, insults, unhappy face all day time. My husband and I don't even sleep together, we have own mortgage house in joint name. Often he insists me to go away or back to my parents with my 3 yr old baby and not to return at all. It was his second marriage. We met on matrimonial site and got officially married in 2016.He is British citizen with permanent job whereas I am jobless with spouse visa and carer of my only child. I feel completely broken as we have camera in house and garden too.I feel helpless, as I don't have capability to pay monthly mortgage installments, no salary income, no enough bank balance, no friends, no job offers in hand amidst covid-19, my selfrespect does not allow me to stay with him now. I was continuing with him coz I had a huge hope that 1 day I will surely get a job and he will respect me with my baby and will stay together.BUT I was wrong. Where can I go now? Can I ask council to get me house, if I get a job (within next 2 years)? I hope by then my baby will understand my situation and will forgive me for all challenges that will be seen by us.
Komy - 16-Oct-20 @ 2:43 PM
My partner is controlling and abusive, I want to leave but I dont want to ho in a refuse I will I get social housing Or would they sayno intentionallymademy self homeless.i cant privately rent due to bad credit and I've no guarante.
Snoddy - 10-Sep-20 @ 5:07 PM
Hi I'm married and 42. I have always known I was gay but really tried to block it and get on with my life. It has effected my mental health terribly. I am in a town where I have no family other than my wife family. I couldn't move back to my home town as I have 2 children and couldn't live that far away. I don't know how to source housing or move forward. I'm in dire straits
Pol - 8-Sep-20 @ 5:00 PM
My husband kicked me out 2 years ago. I am divorcing h and he wants to take my money from marital car because he said I should pay towards chapter 13
Lor - 8-Sep-20 @ 3:38 AM
I’m married. Slept in separate room for six years. My husband is abusive , I have sons and he’s never stood up for me during our marriage. So they’ve become bullying. They all take there troubles out on me. I’ve often cried uncontrollably with no offer of help or support. After his outbursts. With them watching. Now they do it to me. I wish to be stronger. But they’ve taken all my self esteem. My youngest son. Is often shouted at. Me and him are the weak ones.He has learning problems. I don’t work as I’m his carer. I’ve no where to go to live. I have no money to support myself. Carers money and my sons dla wont get us far. Please help me. Can I leave. Would I get somewhere for us to live. We have a home that’s mortgaged. In joint names.
Lau - 3-Jun-20 @ 9:20 PM
Hello! My name is Andrea, My husband was being abusive and controlling towards me. He would scream at me at times. He wouldn’t allow me to have a friend come over. He put a camera up to spy on me one day since he installs cameras as a living. He told me to get out because we had an argument about having company over and his sister who owns the house came down and spoke to me. She said that I couldn’t have my friend over. She would complain to my husband about me all the time. I went to the precinct to report how he came in my face and yelled at me. I left a week after and with my daughter when came to New Jersey to live. I’m not working right now and I need some advice.
Drea - 22-May-20 @ 1:55 AM
My husband for 30 yrs is a cheater I caught him several times texting and sneaking around in our house this relationship has caused me to be very depressed I use to work as a customer service worker and data entry operator this relationship has caused me to not to remember the way i would use my computer skills now i am on depressive medication and I haven't worked steady for over two yrs he takes care of our home and have me on his medical insurance he's retired but he's still working fulltime he's 68 he receives Medicare and pension plus his full time employment and he pays the mortgage I need to leave I cannot bare the lying and cheating but I have nothing and know where to go I am 56yrs old can I get some help I have know money for a lawyer
Lolo - 3-May-20 @ 9:48 PM
hi myself and my husband have our own bungalow and he has very poor health we have been taking about moving overseas but has now found out he has to have dialysis and maybe a transplant. we have not been getting on well so i would still like to move overseas if we sold our bungalow and he was homeless would that be classed as becoming intentionally homeless
ann griffiths - 9-Dec-19 @ 8:16 PM
My Husband and I have been together for over 30 years and his behaviour has gotten worse as the years have gone on, we dont love each other anymore in fact we hate each other, life is becoming unbearable now. we have slept in separate rooms for 10 years and even the sound of his breathing sets my teeth on edge....he is always angry and believes everyone is out to get him, he cant hold down a job for longer then a couple of months at a time as he always falls out with the people he works with.He shouts at me for the most stupid things and when he does he gets right in my face and throws things at me or smashes thing in the kitchen, he calls me the most horrible names insults my family and even started on our son the day my dad died ...I want to leave him but I live in a council house and do not want to lose my tenancy and find myself intentionally homeless, we have been taken to court so many times and almost lost the house because of him losing his jobs and owe over £6000 in council tax ...Im at my wits end and have even thought about taking my own life ..its only the fact that I love my son so much and do not want to hurt him that keeps me breathing ...he also hates his dad, I need to know that if I leave him I could get a council flat or 2 bed house for me and my son.
Debs - 23-Sep-19 @ 5:08 PM
Divorcesource, I am 24 years old and my husband and I have been together for 7 years and married for 5, and we have a child who Is biologically mine. I am a stay at home dad, I have no job now due to the care giver job I had timing out. It has been hard to keep a job because I am deafblind ,have asthma, and everyone knows I'm gay. I have no money anymore, my husband pays for everything. He wants this divorce, and I dont plan to fight him on anything. Our relationship has found its expiration date. He wants our child, and our properties, and I am okay with that. I do not have any family or any friends. I do have debts of my own from school... is there a way for me to leave their lives without causing them unintended financial or legal burden? I understand I am going to be intentionally homeless. I love them both very much, but as someone who grew up in a broken abusive home and ended up in fostercare, and has experienced shelter life, I want the best future possible for both of them. I want a simple divorce. I won't even want him to pay any form of alimony or any money to me from this. Something just clean cut. We both have agreed to this. I won't hold him to me against his wishes, it would be unfair. Also... I dont know very much about resources available to my age and gender, or if there are any available for someone of my specifications. What can be done? Our child is young and my husband seems emotionally ready to move on. I dont want to hold them back from a happy future in a new place. We will be cutting off all contact. I truly hope you have advice for me, we have planned to begin divorce papers very soon. We would like to be divorced before the year is out. My sons birthday is in February, they need some time to settle into their life together. I dont want to spoil his memories, he has such a welcoming family with my husbands relatives to grow up with.
Fable - 7-Aug-19 @ 9:52 PM
My estranged husband of 15yrs in October land Ihave been seperated for 6 years ..we are on fairly good terms ..but .as of today I am homeless due to a problem with my living arrangenents and the house my husband and I lived in together is empty...He rents this house..but has no renters at the moment ...the only thing stopping him from renting to me is his present jealous girlfriend. Im just wondering if I actually have any rights to this home and who its rented to ..or any other rights i may not be aware of .thank you
Cilla - 20-May-19 @ 6:03 AM
I wan,t to leave my controlling husband, can I take half the money and run without him knowing
Pammy - 14-Mar-19 @ 6:26 PM
My abusive husband left our housing association house of his own accord (joint tenants) but I'm going to lose the house for rent arrears. I wasn't allowed to pay the rent, he always wanted more & more money but would then kick off about letters regarding unpaid rent. As he is a joint tenant, he knows he is entitled to live in the property and everytime I don't comply with something (money, child visitation, etc) he threatens to move back in. Also, he has upset some not very nice people and they are still knocking the door looking for him, making threats (e.g. I will have to pay his debt etc). I've tried talking to the police and refuge but nobody will help me. I don't know what to do anymore, all I want is to live peacefully with my young daughter and regain what I lost during the marriage
Sammie - 24-Feb-19 @ 9:12 PM
Hello. I'm stuck in a relationship. My wife is verbally abusive to me and regularly starts on me in public. She has control of all the finances, I have no debt card or credit cards for our account despite it being a joint account. If I do spend any money at all I get a barrage of abuse. I want to leave but with having no money I don't know what to do, or where to go. I work full time and the fear of sleeping rough is too frightening and because of my job extremely dangerous. My family do not live local at all and I have no friends. I'm lost....
P - 9-Feb-19 @ 8:14 AM
I need to leave my partner and father to my three young kids the house is in his name so licking him out is not an option. I have three young kids 3 and under were do I go for help! I can't stay with him he is emotionally abusive and I can't deal with it any more
sadmum - 8-Jan-19 @ 9:10 AM
Hi.My wife has just kicked me out of our home. We are renting off a local housing association and I pay all the bills. Our marriage has been rocky for quite some time now and I think it is time now to say goodbye. I am not prepared to go at this time due to money but I am now in this situation. I don't feel comfortable putting my burdon on my friends I.e to stay round theirs. My question is. What can I do next and where could I stay temporally for now?
Confused.com - 1-Jan-19 @ 1:23 PM
Hey #pompsfan Have you contacted your brothers?
DontWorry - 28-Dec-18 @ 4:37 PM
Hi , I want to leave my husband as he is emotionally abusive and I pay all the bills with no help from him I am classed as disabled so I only have benefits to live on he works full time. His name is on the tenency to the house he won’t put mine on it , I’m really unhappy and on anti depressant because of the situation I’m in , how can I get somewhere else to live I’m at a loss here on what to do I have 3 children 2 are mine and 1 together .
Minnie17 - 5-Oct-18 @ 10:39 AM
Im in a very difficult situation, I am currently jobless and I am looking for work but because my benefits stop in December, my wife of just a year and half is wanting me to leave in 2 months. If I leave I have no where to go nor can I continue to find work. We argue daily and now her child knows what's happening, so now I am being blamed for her not doing well at school and to top it off, I am being blamed for her being in debt because I moved in, although I was working. Please help I don't know what to do. I have also wanted to end because I can't see a way out and I don't want to be on the streets.
pompsfan - 21-Sep-18 @ 9:46 AM
Jazzsam - Your Question:
I'm in a very unhappy marriage. We've been married 2 years and have 1 child together. I have 2 from a previous marriage. We own a house together which we both put money into and now has quite a lot of equity but for the past 2 years I've been a stay at home mum while he pays for everything. We argue almost daily and he is aggressive and verbally abusive. He taunts me with comments about my mental health ( I suffered from post natal depression) He tells me I am a terrible mother constantly. I want to leave but financiallybincant see how it is possible. Can I get housing benefit with my situation. Can I force him to sell the house? He will never agree to leave or help me willingly

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. You will get benefits to help you financially, if you are a stay-at-home mum. It is always a tricky situation when one person leaves the house and then relies upon the other person to sell it. It generally works out fine if the other parent is willing, but if they prove to be awkward such as agree, but put off potential buyers or try to stall and sale, your only option would be then to take the matter to court which becomes costly. Mediation is a good way of trying to arrange who will live where once a relationship ends. The link here will also explain more. However, if the matter does go to court the preference is usually give to the parent who is the day-to-day carer of the children to remain in the family home. I hope this helps.
DivorceResource - 10-Sep-18 @ 10:20 AM
I'm in a very unhappy marriage. We've been married 2 years and have 1 child together. I have 2 from a previous marriage. We own a house together which we both put money intoand now has quite a lot of equity but for the past 2 years I've been a stay at home mum while he pays for everything. We argue almost daily and he is aggressive and verbally abusive. He taunts me with comments about my mental health ( I suffered from post natal depression) He tells me I am a terrible mother constantly. I want to leave but financiallybincant see how it is possible. Can I get housing benefit with my situation. Can I force him to sell the house?He will never agree to leave or help me willingly
Jazzsam - 9-Sep-18 @ 2:54 AM
Sarah - Your Question:
Have been married for 10 years I have a 14 year old daughter my husband is not her biological father I live in the house he purchased before we met although I have contributed to the bills for the 12 years I have lived there I no longer wish to be in a relationship with my husbands but do not wish to make myself and my daughter homeless what our my rights regarding were I live can I make him leave his house or can I ask him to help me financially to help me fine somewhere else to live so he can stay on his home

Our Response:
If you have been married 10 years, then you will have some financial rights. So, you will have less rights if your child is not biologically his (in terms of remaining in the house). You would have to seek legal advice regarding this matter. It may be that you come to a financial agreement that he gives you money to help set you up independently. However, at this point it is very much theoretical as much depends upon the amount of equity in the house and in your joint savings etc. If you can make a joint financial arrangement that you both agree with either mutually through mediation or a solicitor, then this will serve you better and is less costly than taking the matter to court.
DivorceResource - 2-Aug-18 @ 3:08 PM
Have been married for 10 years I have a 14 year old daughter my husband is not her biological father I live in the house he purchased before we met although I have contributed to the bills for the 12 years I have lived there I no longer wish to be in a relationship with my husbands but do not wish to make myself and my daughter homeless what our my rights regarding were I live can I make him leave his house or can I ask him to help me financially to help me fine somewhere else to live so he can stay on his home
Sarah - 1-Aug-18 @ 10:39 PM
@slackDesigns - what about a house-share, or a room in someone's house? If you are working could you afford to do that? You can get some cheap house shares that don't have massive deposits prior to moving in. If you move out, then unless you have kids of your own with your partner you wouldn't have to pay child maintenance and you won't have to give your partner any money. Also, if you are not on the tenancy agreement then it is better for you as at least you are under no financial obligation to keep the agreement up. If you are working, surely, you can save up or borrow £600 - £1,000 or so from your bank, enough for a month's rent and a deposit.
jessH - 20-Feb-18 @ 12:06 PM
I cant afford to rent private and I tried going back on the housing list but I was told I cant because I am suitably housed. I dont have any family or friends who can or will help me both my parents have passed away. If I walk out I would be on the streets then I would most probably lose my job then I would be homeless I have told my partner loads of times how I feel but she just ignores me. She lets her 17 year old daughter talk to me like I'm a piece of dirt.And her daughter is bone lazy doesnt lift a finger to help. I have had enough I really wish I had stayed living on my own.
slackDesigns - 19-Feb-18 @ 3:07 AM
Hello, I moved in with my partner about 4 years ago, the house is in her only and she is the tenant Aspire Housing said I could move in with her but never put me on the tenancy. I have decided that living with my partner as not really worked out she is lazy and basically lives off my wages as she dont work and nobody will give her a job. When we were courting things were good but since we have been living together she has changed. I want to go back living on my own but I have nowhere to go I have no money as my partner uses my wages to pay all the bills. I am scared I dont want end up on the streets and I dont know what to do.
slackDesigns - 19-Feb-18 @ 2:59 AM
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