Buying a property with a partner can feel wildly romantic, and a great way to cement a relationship. However, although it’s impossible to imagine now, there may come a point when the relationship breaks down.
It’s essential to prepare in advance how you would manage this, and this means getting the legal structure right in the first place. While there’s no strict rules that everyone must abide by, here are a few factors to consider.
Types of shared ownership
Many people don’t realise there’s more than one way to share ownership on a property and if the worst happens, they can mean very different things.
By default, most property ownership is set up as Joint Tenants. This means you both own an equal share and should you split, the property will be divided equally. If one party has put in more of the money, and paid for costs such as online conveyancing, this may not be the best structure. While it’s possible to save money on conveyancing fees as https://www.samconveyancing.co.uk/news/conveyancing/online-conveyancing-quotes-the-truth-behind-the-low-fees-280 explains, there’s still the deposit and other costs to consider.
An alternative therefore is Tenants in Common. This allows you to define the precise portion each party owns, and it doesn’t need to be an even split. If you want a greater contribution to be protected, this option will make this possible.
The other key difference is that in the case of a death, with Joint Tenants the surviving property owner would inherit the share. With Tenants in Common, the property share would go to the estate.
Prenuptials won’t solve everything
Contrary to popular belief, a prenuptial isn’t legally binding and can’t stop one party from seeking what they can legally claim as theirs.
However, that doesn’t mean a prenup is completely useless, as a recent series of court rulings have meant that judges will try to follow the intent of a prenuptial as much as possible. They demonstrate the intent to the court, and there would have to be very good reason to disregard the agreement.
Discuss and agree
It may feel an uncomfortable subject to raise but it really is key to discuss and agree from the start how you want to proceed. With other options such as trusts, there’s always a way to set the property ownership up in a way that suits everyone.