What is an Occupation Order?

In England and Wales, an Occupation Order is an Injunction which gives the applicant the right to live in a property. The Court can grant an Occupation Order for the whole of a property or part of it.

An Occupation Order can also be used to exclude a person from an area around a property, and deal with issues such as who pays the mortgage. It may also cover whether the person who is ordered to live in the property should pay any rent for being allowed to do so.

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How to Apply for an Occupation Order

To apply for an Occupation Order, the person applying must be able to prove that they are associated with the respondent. This effectively means that you can only apply for an Occupation Order if you meet one of the following criteria:

      • You are, were, or intend to be married to the respondent
      • You are, were, or intend to be civil partners to the respondent
      • You and the respondent are in a relationship and live together as though you’re married to each other
      • You and the respondent live or have lived in the same household in a familial (family) relationship
      • You and the respondent have or have had an intimate personal relationship of significant duration with each other
      • You and the respondent are relatives. Relatives includes the following:

- Parent/step-parent
- Child/stepchild,
- Grandparent/grandchild
- Spouse/former spouse
- Civil partner/former civil partner.
- Sibling
- Uncle/aunt
- Niece/nephew
- First cousin

Furthermore, you must be able to show that you’re entitled to occupy the property. The first element to this is that you must be able to show that both you and the respondent either continue to or have at some point occupied the property as your home. You must then also be able to show that you had the right to occupy the property as your home.

This is a complicated area, as there are several ways in which you can demonstrate to the Court that you have occupation rights. Establishing this requirement will depend on the individual facts of the case, although there are cases where somebody has clear occupation rights. For instance, they may be the registered owner or the property is or was their matrimonial home.

When deciding whether to grant an Occupation Order, the Court has a duty to make an Order if it appears that the applicant or any child they have Parental Responsibility for is likely to suffer significant harm from the respondent if an Occupation Order isn’t granted.

Where there isn’t a risk of significant harm, the Court will consider all the circumstances with particular regard to:

      • The housing needs and housing resources of each of the persons and of any relevant child
      • The financial resources of each of the persons
      • The likely effect of any Order, or of any decision by the Court not to exercise its powers to make an Order on the health, safety or wellbeing of the persons and of any relevant child
      • The conduct of the persons in relation to each other and otherwise.

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