Can I Get A Council House On Priority After Separation?

Council housing provides low-cost accommodation for individuals in the UK who may be on low income or may not be able to maintain full-time jobs due to certain conditions related to their own health or that of a family member. Through this article, we aim to explore the details of how someone can claim a council house on the priority of they are separated. We will learn about the differences in approach in this regard when the claimants are already living in a council property versus if they were not occupying one at the time of the separation.

Can I Get A Council House On Priority After Separation?

While you may not be on priority to get a council house due to separation from partner; however, if your separation leads to the potential risk of being homeless or it affects your mental or physical health, the council authorities will consider you on priority for the allocation of a council house. In case of risk of homelessness, they also provide temporary shelter to claimants until a council house is available for them.

While each council has an individual allocation scheme to follow in terms of assigning priority to council housing applicants, claimants who fulfil any of the following criteria are expected to be higher on priority:

  • if someone is legally homeless 
  • they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability
  • due to hardship-anything from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs
  • currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions

If you have been living in a council house prior to your separation, the tenancy rights will depend on whether you and your partner were married in a court of law, in a civil partnership or were living together as partners. 

If you were married or in a civil partnership, not only can your ex-partner be removed from the tenancy agreement upon dissolution of your relationship, you may be able to seek financial support from them as well. Your local Citizen’s Action Centre may help you with arranging financial support after you separate. In case of a divorce, tenancy transfer can be added in the divorce proceedings.

If one of the partners leaves the council premises and informs the social housing landlord or council office by serving a legal notice, the other partner will also have to leave the property.

If you are being asked to vacate the council house at the end of a relationship, you can seek an occupation order through the court that permits you to continue living under the premises especially if you are at risk of homelessness. 

To apply for council housing, candidates are required to apply to their local council (mostly online), who will then consider it based on their criteria for awarding priority to those from certain demographics and or social classes.

Even if the local council accepts and prioritizes the application, it does not mean that the applicant will be provided with occupancy rights immediately. They will simply be confirmed to be eligible and added to a waiting list. The time between application and occupancy varies from council to council and may also depend upon the size of the waiting list.

The local council contacts candidates directly to inform them once they’ve been assigned a council home. Additionally, they also indicate the time frame that a candidate has to accept or refuse the premises being offered. There is usually a small window for candidates to respond before the council home is offered to someone else.

What Happens To Joint Tenancy Of Council House In Case Of Separation?

What happens to a joint tenancy agreement of a council housing in the case of a relationship breakdown depends upon two factors primarily; one being the nature of the relationship and the other being the nature of the tenancy.

In an ideal situation, the relationship breakdown; whether it is the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership or the end of a live-in partnership, matters remain cordial enough between both parties to arrive at a mutual agreement with regards to practical matters, including matters of their tenancy. 

Under such conditions, the tenants can inform the council of the change in their living conditions and request for a new tenancy agreement to be made in the name of the partner who plans to continue living in the council property while the other one leaves.

As a joint tenant both of you have the following rights:

  • Your right to stay in the property remains intact even at the end of a relationship; unless there is a court order demanding you to leave on reasonable grounds.
  • Both occupants continue to remain responsible for timely payments of rent as well as protection of council property. 
  • If one of the partners leaves the property, the remaining partner becomes responsible for rental payments.
  • If both partners decide to vacate the premises, they will be required to pay the rent amounting to the end of the contract.

Can My Ex-Partner Remove Me From A Joint Tenancy Agreement?

Yes, your ex-partner can remove you from a  joint tenancy agreement for council housing and you can do the same as well. However, the way that you may need to go about depends on your circumstances and relationship status.

If both of you are listed as joint tenants, there needs to be an agreement between both parties and the landlord for the removal of one of them from the tenancy agreement. In such a case where one of the partners fails to comply, they must be informed that being listed as joint tenant keeps them responsible for a contribution towards the council house rent. If your landlord or ex-partner do not agree to a tenancy transfer or your tenancy agreement prohibits it, you can file an application in court.

In the case of unmarried partners having children under the age of 18, the Family Law Act 1996 protects the welfare of the children. By seeking legal advice, you may be able to file an appeal in court for a tenancy transfer.

In cases where an ex-partner’s name is to be removed from council tenancy agreements due to domestic violence, you can get help from council authorities on a priority basis as this counts as being homeless.

Can I Get A Council House Through Tenancy Transfer?

Yes, you can get a council house through tenancy transfer but certain conditions need to be met for the transfer both by the tenant as well the individual to whom the council house is being transferred. This is only possible with the formal permission of your local council office.

Council house tenancy can either be transferred through succession or assignment. In case of succession tenancy, the council house tenant nominates an individual (usually a close family member) who may continue with their council house tenancy in the event of their death. In this case, one must remember that even though council houses can be passed down through succession this can only be applied once per the tenancy agreement. For instance, if the tenancy has passed down from one person to another, the successor will not be able to pass it down again. 

In case of a tenancy being assigned to another individual, council housing tenants need to file an application for transfer of tenancy with their local council office. This may either be due to the current tenant moving out of council premises or seeking a mutual exchange of council property with someone else. In the case of the former, it is essential for both parties to be living in the council house in question for a minimum period of 12 months.

What Are Discretionary Succession Rights For Tenancy Transfer?

Discretionary succession rights are the rights to succession of someone who may not fulfil the desired criteria under statuary succession for council tenancy. As the name suggests, these are rights to being passed down a council house, at the discretion and decision of council authorities once claimants place their application to continue living in a council property after the death of the tenant in whose name the council tenancy agreement was originally made.

To claim discretionary succession rights under secure tenancy, the following terms must be kept in view by claimants as councils will be basing their decisions while considering them:

  • If the deceased tenant is only survived by a minor child(ren), the council authority will ask for a trustee to be appointed from their immediate family. In rare cases, housing association charities may serve as the trust under which the children continue to live at the premises.
  • In the case of a flexible tenancy in place, it is essential for the claiming spouse or partner to have shared the premises with the deceased for at least a year.
  • When there is more than one claimant for discretionary succession, the council expects the family members to make their choice in deciding who to nominate from the benefit of discretionary succession. If they fail to do so, the council has the authority to choose from the best option in their view.
  • If the discretionary successor is spouse or partner, they can continue living in the same council house for which the claim is being made. However, in the case of any other successor, the council has the right to assess the resident’s needs due to a change in the number of household members and re-assign another council property depending on the bedroom standard.


From the above discussion, it is clear that should an individual be in need of council housing due to separation from their partner, their relationship status alone may not get priority for council housing; unless there is a serious condition such as the risk of being homeless or being faced with an illness or disability. If they were a council housing tenant at the time of the separation, their rights to the property will depend on the nature of their relationship as well as that of the tenancy itself.

FAQs: Can I Get A Council House On Priority After Separation?

What makes you a priority for council housing?

To be a priority for council housing, the claimant should either be at risk of being legally homeless, forced to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability or is faced with hardship such as from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs or they are currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions.

What are my rights when separating?

In case of a marriage or civil partnership, both parties have the right to stay in their matrimonial home unless there is a court order against any one of them. However, in the case of a partnership through living together, the one with their name of the tenancy agreement will have the right to stay in the house.

What happens to the house when you separate?

If the couple is not married or in a civil partnership, the court decides about who gets to live in the proprty in case of a dispute between both parties. 

Is mental health a priority for housing?

Yes, mental health is among the top-ranking criteria for being on the priority list for council housing.

What does Band 3 mean in council housing?

Band 3 in council housing indicates a low priority band. It indicates that the individual qualifies for a council house but is not faced with an emergency to move.


Getting a council home

Council housing

2. Your Council Tenancy & Relationship Breakdown

Joint tenancies and relationship breakdowns – Buckles Law

Relationship breakdown | Merton Council

What happens to your home when you separate – Citizens Advice

Housing and relationship breakdown | Tendring District Council

Can I pass on my Council tenancy to someone else?

Who has priority