Fair Share

Q. I have lived with my partner for 10 moving, and we are looking to purchase a property together. We will be purchasing the property with the assistance of a mortgage and I will be paying the deposit, using some money I have saved. If we sell the property in the future, I would like to recover my deposit. Do I need anything in writing.

A. When two, or more, people purchase property together they can own it as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. Where property is owned as ‘joint tenants’ you will each have equal rights to the whole of the property, your share being transferred to the other person (in this case your partner) in the event of your death.

In broad terms, as a starting point, your partner would be entitled to one half share of the proceeds of sale if he elected to ‘ignore’ your agreement. In this case, if you wanted to recover your deposit, you would need to be able to demonstrate to the court, if it got that far, that your interest in the property should be different from the legal title (i.e. that it should not be equal). These cases can be extremely complex and are often an uphill battle.

If the title is registered as ‘tenants in common’, however, you can own the property in unequal shares, and determine (in a will) how you would like your share to be handled in the event of your death. This should be coupled with either:-

  • A Declaration of Trust setting out how the sale proceeds are to be divided upon sale; or
  • An agreement (known as a ‘cohabitation agreement’) setting out how the sale proceeds are to be divided upon sale. You can also determine, with the agreement, further provisions as to the regulation of contributions to the household (such as utilities and mortgage repayments) and gifts, amongst other things.

These documents should be prepared by a qualified, and suitably experienced, lawyer.

Ultimately, the purchase of property, and consideration of financial implications of cohabitation can be complex and I would always recommend that you seek independent legal advice before making such a significant decision.

If you required any further information or advice, please free to contact our team by email at family@berrysmith.com or by telephone on 02920 345511.