A growing number of couples in the UK are choosing to buy property together without getting married or entering a civil partnership. This can be a good way to get onto then property ladder when house prices are unaffordable for many individuals, while also allowing unmarried couples to make a home that is truly their own.
However, if buying a property together as an unmarried couple, there are several important issues you need to consider before making a purchase. Making these decisions and putting the right legal provisions in place can help to prevent the possibility of any disagreements during your relationship or if your relationship ends.
Should you buy as joint tenants or tenants in common?
If you choose to buy a property as joint tenants, this means that if one of you dies, your share of the property will automatically pass to the surviving tenant. Alternatively, you can buy the property as tenants in common, meaning you can leave your share of your property to whoever you wish in your Will.
What percentage of the property will you own?
When you buy a property together, your individual shares of the ownership will usually be considered to be 50:50, irrespective of how much each of you puts towards the cost of buying the property.
If you wish to have a different arrangement e.g. because one of you is contributing significantly more than the other, you will need to have your percentages of ownership specified in a legally binding document.
How will you pay the mortgage and other bills?
If one of you will be contributing more than the other towards mortgage payments and other bills, you may also wish to have this considered if you ever come to sell the house.
It may be a good idea to agree in advance exactly what percentage each of you will be contributing to on-going costs, such as the mortgage payments, and whether this difference will be reflected in how much each of your will get if the property is sold.
If you are not sure how much each of you will contribute, you could have an agreement drawn up that specifies that what percentage of the property each of you will own at the point of sale will be based on how much each of you has contributed up to that point.
What will happen to the house if you split up?
While it may not be something you want to think about, it is definitely worth having a plan in place for what happens to the property if you separate. This can involve whether the property must be sold or if one of you will buy out the other’s share. It could also include details about how the property will be valued e.g. both of you choosing an estate agent for a valuation and using the average.
Is it worth creating a cohabitation agreement?
These details can all be specified in a legally binding document called a ‘cohabitation agreement’, also sometimes referred to as a ‘living together agreement’. A cohabitation agreement can give both of you certainty over how you will handle the important issues related to your home both during your relationship and if your relationship ends. This can save you time, money and a lot of stress while also making it easier to maintain a positive relationship with your partner, no matter what happens.
Get expert legal support when buying a home as an unmarried couple
Bird & Co Solicitors is a long-established law firm offering conveyancing services for properties across England and Wales from our 3 East Midlands offices. Our highly experienced residential property team can make the process of buying a property as simple and stress-free as possible.
We are accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, meaning you can be sure that we operate to the highest possible standards and can provide fast, efficient and cost-effective conveyancing for any property deal.
To find out more about our conveyancing services, call us today on 01476 591711 or use our contact page to find details of your nearest Bird & Co office.