Cohabitees Owning Property.
These days it is common for unmarried couples to live-together (cohabit). Unfortunately, when a relationship breaks down, cohabitees are not afforded the same protection as married couples.
Celia recently came to me for advice. She had moved in with her partner Richard 10 years ago and after a few months they purchased their first flat. Celia put up an £80 000 deposit (left to her by her grandmother) and bought most of the furniture. They both contributed to the household bills but Celia paid most of the mortgage and did most of the common food and household shopping.
Unfortunately they did not live happily ever after. Richard met someone else. Celia immediately moved out to stay with a friend. Richard refused to move out and agree to sell the property for years – until Celia went to court to force a sale. When it was sold Celia lost out on all her additional contributions to the house. To top it all Richard made off with all of the furniture.
Many people still believe that the law gives them some protection. Unfortunately there is no such thing in law as common law marriage. Celia received 50% of the value of the house despite contributing almost £100,000 more than Richard. And she was never able to recover any of the furniture she had bought.
A declaration of trust over their house could have protected Celia as it may have provided for the proceeds of any sale to be split in accordance with their contributions to the purchase price and the mortgage. It should be considered by all unmarried couples who own a house together – if you are married then the matrimonial court can ensure that there is fairness between spouses and civil partners. More wide ranging for unmarried couples is a Living Together Agreement. It doesn’t sound very romantic but it makes you think about easy and fair ways to divide the costs and avoid those arguments about who is paying for the food or the phone bill. It can also make you feel more secure if you have discussed what would happen if you ever were to split up.
If you have a legal query contact Rosalind Watchorn Solicitors today to discuss your situation. We specialise in wills and probate; tax planning and elderly advice; conveyancing and property.
For an initial meeting without commitment or if you are housebound and need a home visit call Stephanie or Kathryn on 0114 229 0160.