Living Together and Property Ownership Solicitors
It may not sound romantic, but talking to your family lawyer before you move in with your partner could be the best housewarming gift you give yourselves. Setting all the important details out clearly from the beginning will help ensure both of you know what your rights and responsibilities are, and can help to prevent an expensive and messy separation if you split acrimoniously. Unpicking any knots from the start will give your relationship every chance to flourish in your shared home.
UK Family Law and Living Together
The rights of cohabiting couples vary depending on whether one of them owns the property, both do, or they are renting.
Under UK family law couples have different rights based on whether their tenancy agreement is in one or both names. If your lease is in both names, then you are both entitled to keep living in the property. However, it only takes one of you to give the notice to end the tenancy to the landlord. If this happens, then you may be able to negotiate a new rental agreement with your landlord that is only in your name. Whoever’s name is in the tenancy agreement is responsible for paying the rent. Falling into arrears could lead to your eviction and damage your credit rating, making it difficult to find a new home to rent.
If the tenancy agreement is only in one person’s name, then they have the right to ask the other to move out. They should give “reasonable” notice, but there is no legal definition of what is reasonable – it depends on the individual and the circumstances. If your partner tries to evict you then it may be possible for you to obtain an Occupation Order giving you the right to stay in your home. This is the last resort as the court will decide which of you needs to move out, and who will be responsible for paying rent and household bills. Occupation Orders are not granted very often, and you may find yourself still facing eviction but now with a large legal bill.
Buying a Property Together
When you buy a property together, you will need to decide whether you will Joint Owners or Tenants in Common.
Joint ownership comes in two forms: Joint Ownership and Tenants in Common. Joint Ownership is where both parties have an equal financial interest in the property regardless of the amount each of them paid and who pays the mortgage. Neither can sell their share of the property to a third party nor can they leave it to someone else when they die. If the property is sold, each owner walks away with the same amount of profit or debt after all expenses have deducted from the sale price.
Tenants in Common own their part of the property individually. Ownership does not have to be split 50/50 – you can decide how much each of you will own based on your financial contribution or other criteria. An owner can sell their share of the property without the other’s agreement and can leave it to whomever they like in their will.
Sharing a Property Owned by One Partner
A person living in a property owned by their partner may be able to obtain Beneficial Ownership if they can demonstrate they have contributed financially to the purchase of the property, like paying part or all of the deposit, or the mortgage payments. Beneficial Ownership is not the same as having their name formally recorded on the Title Deeds, but it will prevent the named owner from selling the property without their permission and entitle them to some of the profit if the property is sold. It also allows the beneficial owner to stay living in the property unless the other partner obtains a Court Order that states they cannot.
The easiest way to avoid any disagreements and acrimony on separating is to draw up a Cohabitation Agreement before you move in together. Your family lawyer can do this quickly and easily so contact them today to find out more.
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At The Family Law Experts, we work with specialist solicitors in all aspects of divorce, matrimonial, family and childcare law.
We offer an expert approach at a personal level for all our legal support. When dealing with family issues and family legal problems, our aim is to deal with each case in the least confrontational way possible, whilst still achieving the best results for our clients. We understand that when family issues arise and family relationships break down, real lives are affected, and the need for expert legal help and support is essential.