The Law on Joint Tenancies and its impact on victims of domestic abuse

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is in the process of carrying out a consultation exercise regarding the impact of the current joint tenancy rules on victims of domestic abuse.  

As matters stand, joint periodic social housing tenancies can be ended by either tenant, without the consent of the other. A joint tenancy may be transferred into one tenant’s sole name, but this usually requires the mutual agreement of both joint tenants, together with the consent of the landlord. As an exception to this, in certain prescribed circumstances, a joint tenant may apply to the family court seeking an order to transfer.  

In the case of fixed term or ‘secure flexible’ tenancies, a joint tenant may conversely be at risk of feeling ‘stuck’ within their tenancy, meaning that they can become liable for rent arrears and / or damage to a property that they no longer wish to live in.  

The consultation is focused upon the social rented sector in England, and its primary aims are to consider whether: 

  • perpetrators of domestic abuse are using their ability to end a joint tenancy to threaten their victim with homelessness 
  • victims feel trapped in joint tenancies with perpetrators 
  • the current guidance for social landlords is sufficient to support victims in joint tenancies; and 
  • the law on transferring joint tenancies is functioning successfully for victims.

In the year ending March 2020, an estimated 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse, it is therefore imperative to consider whether victims are receiving adequate and effective support under the current framework.    

Landlords and members of the legal profession are being invited to give evidence as part of the consultation, and we would encourage anyone who has encountered these issues in practice to contribute their views.  

Responses may be submitted via an online survey here, or by emailing 

The deadline for submissions is 11.45pm on 10 May 2022. 

The full text of the consultation (which includes a list of questions) is accessible here. 

If you need legal advice on the consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our expert Social Housing Team. 

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