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

Becoming Intentionally Homeless: Your Rights

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 6 Oct 2017 |
 
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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[Add a Comment]
Juls - Your Question:
My husband wants me to leave and for us to divorce after 4 years of marriage he owns everything and all bills are in his name he says I can have a penny but I dont have much money to just leave a find some were to live were do I stand

Our Response:
With regards to your rights, much depends upon whether your husband owned the property etc pre-marriage. If he did, then it is likely he will be allowed to remain in the property, as due to your short marriage it would be considered a pre-marital asset. However, much depends upon whether you have children etc as this would give you more of a claim. If you are married, you do have rights as theoretically all assets are considered jointly owned. You can see what your rights are via the CAB link here . Your ex cannot force you out of your home and if he is trying to, you may wish to seek legal advice. If you cannot afford legal advice, the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help. Just because you have not contributed financially, it does not mean you have to leave the marriage empty handed.
DivorceResource - 13-Oct-17 @ 2:15 PM
My husband wants me to leave and for us to divorce after 4 years of marriage he owns everything and all bills are in his name he says i can have a penny but i dont have much money to just leave a find some were to live were do i stand
Juls - 6-Oct-17 @ 4:40 PM
Gabs - Your Question:
My renewal for FLR FP has been with UKVI for past 10 mths and unemployed for this period. My wife of 10years due to pressure from unable to pay for all the bills now believes am the cause of the family's hard ship and has thrown me out since my name is not on the council tenancy. Council can't help me until decision of my application comes. Currently sleeping at bus stops and parks at nights. We have three children at the ages 9, 8 and 6.Where can I obtain help.

Our Response:
I'm afraid I can only direct you to the gov.uk link here and/or via the Shelter link here which will tell you what help you can get and/or allow you to speak to someone directly who can help you further.
DivorceResource - 21-Aug-17 @ 11:38 AM
My renewal for FLR FP has been with UKVI for past 10 mths and unemployed for this period. My wife of 10years due to pressure from unable to pay for all the bills now believes am the cause of the family's hard ship and has thrown me out since my name is not on the council tenancy.Council can't help me until decision of my application comes. Currently sleeping at bus stops and parks at nights. We have three children at the ages 9, 8 and 6. Where can I obtain help...
Gabs - 19-Aug-17 @ 6:04 PM
Ben - Your Question:
My partner and I have split after she cheated on me. We have two children ages 3 and 1. As I work full time we have decided it makes sense for her to stay in our renamed flat as she has the majority if the time with the kids. I will have to be sleeping on a friends floor, for a while at least. Is this me making myself intentionally homeless? And would I even be able to get help from the council?

Our Response:
Much depends on your eligibility and your level of need as determined by the local council (bearing in mind the more vulnerable groups in society will be given priority and there is always a council property waiting list). You can see more via the gov.uk link here. If you are working full-time, then you will not be on the top of the priority list and will more than likely be expected to be able to find your own accommodation.
DivorceResource - 4-Jul-17 @ 11:25 AM
My partner and i have split after she cheated on me. We have two children ages 3 and 1. As i work full time we have decided it makes sense for her to stay in our renamed flat as she has the majority if the time with the kids. I will have to be sleeping on a friends floor, for a while at least. Is this me making myself intentionally homeless? And would i even be able to get help from the council?
Ben - 3-Jul-17 @ 4:48 PM
Leon- Your Question:
Advice, I have split up with my ex for three years, we have three children twin girls aged 16 and a boy of 14. I want to get my share of the house so I can live a stable life as I now have a 15 month old son and another child on the way.what can be done

Our Response:
Your question is difficult to advise on as you don't say whether your ex owns the house and what your financial input into the house has been. Therefore, you would have to seek legal advice.
DivorceResource - 5-Oct-16 @ 10:55 AM
Advice, I have split up with my ex for three years, we have three children twin girls aged 16 and a boy of 14. I want to get my share of the house so i can live a stable life as I now have a 15 month old son and another child on the way. what can be done
Leon - 4-Oct-16 @ 9:58 AM
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