Living together does not entitle you to Married Quarters (Service Family Accommodation) unless you have permanent custody of children.
You might find this surprising but there is no such thing as a 'common-law' husband or wife under English law. This fact is very important for people who live together in a property that is solely in one partner's name.
There is no such thing as a common-law husband or wife under English law. Living together does not give you any financial rights if your relationship breaks down or your partner dies without leaving a will.
Living together for any number of years does not give you any financial rights if your relationship breaks down or if your partner dies without leaving a will.
Even if you can prove that you have contributed to the mortgage payments, it can be difficult and very costly to claim a share in the home in which you live.
There are alternatives to tying the knot for those who live together and want to protect their own interests - this applies just as well to siblings or friends who contribute to buying a property together.
The first option, and the best, is to have joint ownership of the property. There are two ways to do this:
- Joint tenancy - means that when you die your share of the property automatically passes to the other person.
- Tenants in common - each person owns a specific share of the property, which can be 50:50 or something else. Your share of the property can be passed to whoever you choose in your will when you die.
What legal documents do you need?
If you buy a property together your shares should be set out in a 'declaration of trust' or 'trust deed'. How much you each put in as deposit and how the mortgage payments are covered should be included. A solicitor can help you draw this up. Go to Where to get help in our Managing Money section to find out where to get legal advice.
You should also consider drawing up an inventory of individually owned and shared items. You may need this if you eventually split or want to sell. You don't need a solicitor to do this.
Property is in one person's name only
If the property remains only in your partner's name it is very important that you take action to protect yourself in the event of a breakdown in relationship or death.
- Have a solicitor draw up a 'living-together agreement'. This should list who owns what including your share of the property. It should also state who is responsible for mortgage payments, insurance, utitilities and household expenditure and make it clear whether or not these contributions give you a right to a share in the property. It can also include an option to buy out the other person's share in case of separation. Go to Where to get help in our Managing Money section to find out where to get legal advice.
- If the property is in your name, make sure you have made a will so that you can choose who will inherit your interest in the property in case of your death.
Just like other areas of finance, the key to staying MoneyFit is to do your research and get proper advice. Buying a property is probably the biggest purchase you will make in your life so make sure you are protected if things go wrong.
For further information see our pages on buying a property, joint debts and Splitting what you own if you're not married or in a civil partnership.