Your rights to your matrimonial home

I recently came across a post in a women’s group that I am a part of, about a woman whose husband abandoned her and left for another country. He put the house up for sale without a second’s consideration for the woman and the 2 children he cruelly and shamelessly left to fend for themselves. He assumed since the house was his name, he had the legal right to do with it as he pleased. He was of course foolishly mistaken in this self-entitled assumption of his. Having the ownership of the house in his name does not give him the sole right to it. Even if the other spouse (in this case the wife) does not own the family home, she has what is legally defined as ‘Home rights.’ These home rights include the right to live in the family home and not be made to leave from the family home, unless there is an occupation order stating that you must leave. An occupation order is an order which sets out who can live in the family home, or who can enter which parts of the family home.

So if you or someone you know is under the threat of being made homeless because she is not the owner of the property, the first step you need to take towards eliminating this threat is:

Register your home rights:

By registering, your home rights will be on the legal documents for the home. This means that other people and organisations such as the Land Registry, banks and people who want to buy the property will know that you have home rights. It also means that your spouse cannot sell or mortgage the property without you knowing about it.

Before you apply for home rights, you’ll need to know if the property is registered in your partner’s name, and its title number if it is.

You can search the register at the link below to find this information

You must complete a different application process for home rights depending on whether the property is registered or unregistered:

Applying for home rights for a property that is registered:

Registered property means the Land Registry holds a register of the property which includes details such as who owns the property. In this case you can apply for your home rights by filling the form HR1 at the link below:

Applying for home rights for a property that is unregistered:

Unregistered property means details of the property are not held in a register by the Land Registry but kept in separate documents. These documents are called title deeds. Title deeds will normally be held by your mortgage provider. If you do not have a mortgage the title deeds should be with an owner or may be held by a solicitor. You can register your home rights for these type of properties by filling the form K2 at the link below:

There is currently a £1 fee on the above form

Please find below, some other related information that you may find important:

Do I need my spouse’s consent to register my home rights?

No. Your spouse will not be asked to provide consent when you register your home rights.

Can I transfer my home rights?

You can ask the Land Registry to transfer your home rights from one property to another. You can only register home rights against one property at a time.

Will my spouse know that I have registered my home rights?

That depends on whether the property is registered or unregistered in the first place

If it is registered, then yes, your spouse will be informed by the Land Registry

If the property is unregistered, your spouse will not be explicitly informed by the Land Charges Department. However they may find out about it by making enquiries and searches with the Land Charges Department

What if my spouse owns the property jointly with someone else?

In case your spouse owns the home with someone else, such as with a friend or with parents, then you may not be able to register your home rights. This is complicated and you should contact a lawyer for further advice

When do home rights end?

Home rights will end when the marriage ends (for example, by divorce) or on the death of either spouse. If the marriage is ended by divorce, then the home rights will end on the date of your decree absolute. A decree absolute is an order from the court officially ending the marriage.

Cancelling your home rights:

You or your spouse can apply to cancel the registration of your home rights. Your spouse may only apply to cancel the registration of your home rights if they have a decree absolute for a divorce, a death certificate, an order from the court ending the home rights or something in writing from you stating that you are giving up your home rights.


Tags: asset division, decree absolute, decree nisi, divorce, home rights UK, HR1form, land registry, matrimonial home rights

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