How can I protect my assets if I buy a home with my boyfriend?

Tracey Moloney
1 December 2016

Q

My boyfriend and I want to move in together. We own our own homes, but I have a higher income than him.

We can’t work out the best way to merge our assets. If we sell our own places and buy somewhere together, we can both afford to put in the same amount for the deposit.

But I can afford to pay far more each month towards the mortgage repayments.

How do we come up with a fair arrangement that reflects the facts that we have put the same amount into the property but I’m paying the bulk of the mortgage?

From
JC/Manchester

A

By entering into a cohabitation agreement together, you will be able to record the amount of deposit you each contribute to the property and how much you each intend to pay towards the mortgage.

In your situation, this would mean recording how much capital you had each put into the property and what percentage of the property that means you own. Then, if for example, the mortgage is £999 a month and you contribute £666 and he contributes £333, you may wish to hold the rest of the property as 70:30, so that if you separated and consequently sold the property, the proceeds of the sale would be distributed fairly on the basis of what you have individually put into it.

Cohabitation agreements can also take care of details such as who would take care of any pets, how household items and belongings would be divided up and how any children would be looked after in the event that a couple separates.

The important thing to remember is that cohabitation agreements must be fair and reasonable. Both parties need to take independent legal advice if the document is going to be relied on in the event of separation.

Tracey Maloney is head of family law at Co-op Legal Services

The editor’s view

Another option for couples buying property together is to set up a ‘no-nup’ agreement. You can do this using a cohabitation agreement template, which you can download from Lawpack.co.uk for £10.

But for this to stand up in court, you would both need to get independent legal advice before you signed. When it comes to buying a property with your partner, there is no right or wrong way of doing it.You need to work out what works for you.

Couples manage their finances in all sorts of different ways. Some share everything, some rely on spreadsheets, some have joint accounts, others keep it separate. The key is communication.