When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Moving in with a partner

It may not be romantic but it is vital that you know your rights when it comes to your home. Preparing properly will make sure that you are less likely to be caught out if anything happens to your relationship.

What you should do and your rights when you move in depends on whether you'll be a tenant or a licensee.

Moving your partner into your privately rented home

Get permission, in writing, from your landlord before the other person moves in. You could be breaking your tenancy agreement if you don't get your landlord's permission. Your landlord could use this as a reason for evicting you in the future. If your landlord refuses, ask for the reasons.  If you're already living with someone, moving your partner in could turn the house into a HMO and the landlord could end up having to pay registration fees and carrying out improvements on the property. 

Only the person named in the tenancy agreement is liable for the rent.

Renting privately as joint tenants

If you and your partner rent a house together and you're both named on the agreement you have an equal right to live in the property.  If the agreement says you are joint & severally liable for rent, the landlord can choose to pursue either one of you for any damage caused in the property or any rent owed.  You are both liable for paying the rent. If one person doesn't pay their half, then the other person must pay the full amount.

If your relationship breaks down or you decide that living together isn't working out, it's important to get advice on what you should do about your joint tenancy.  If one of you ends the tenancy, this could bring the entire tenancy to an end.  You'll normally need to negotiate with the landlord and ask your landlord to draw up a new tenancy agreement in the sole name of the person who will be staying on in the tenancy.  This one person will then become entirely responsible for the rent on the property. 

Moving your partner into your social tenancy

If you're the tenant, you need to get permission from the Housing Executive or housing association before your partner moves in. The person named on the tenancy agreement is responsible for paying rent.  If your partner moves in with you and you're claiming housing benefit you need to tell the Housing Executive.  You'll also need to tell the Social Security Agency if you're claiming any other benefits.  Your partner's income will be taken into consideration when working out how much, if any, benefit you should get. 

Making a joint application for a Housing Executive or housing association property 

If you and your partner want to move into a new social tenancy together, you can make a joint housing application.  You'll be awarded points in the same way that you would if you were making an application on your own. 

If you're already renting your home from the Housing Executive or a housing association you can ask your landlord to create a new joint tenancy giving you and your partner equal rights to live in the property.  Joint tenants are equally responsible for paying rent on a property and, if either one of you formally ends the tenancy, the other person will lose his or her right to live in the property. 

Moving your partner into a home you own

It's probably a good idea to draw up an agreement outlining what you have agreed about the home when you move in. This will be especially important if your partner is contributing to the mortgage or other housing costs when his or her name isn't on the deeds of the property.  It may seem negative to discuss your options if you split up when you've just moved in together but it's important that you both know what you'll walk away with if the relationship goes bad. 

Buying a home with your partner

Ask your solicitor for advice on your legal rights to the property.  You'll normally have an equal share in the property, but if you've invested unequal amounts you might want to ask your solicitor to draw up a contract showing what share you each own.