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Moving in Together

My Boyfriend is moving in with me to my apartment. How do I safeguard my home from a claim if we split up?

My Boyfriend is moving in with me to my apartment. How do I safeguard my home from a claim if we split up?

  

This can cause serious problems – and it’s understandable how it can arise. A couple are dating and in this case the girl asks the guy to move in with him. What happens in a year if they split up – even though the legal title to the apartment remains in her name?

This has nothing to do with the American phenomenon of “Palimony” – that is a share in the assets of one half of a couple who have lived together – just because of that – they have lived together and the claimant hasn’t contributed any value to the assets of the other.

This problem arises through the law of equity where, in this case it’s the boyfriend, might contribute directly to increasing the financial value of the girlfriend’s home. This could happen in a casual and indirect way, for example, if the couple decide to do renovations and they share the cost of putting in a new bathroom. (Imagine your boyfriend is a plumber and says – “bathroom – no problem. I’ll get a bunch of my mates and we’ll put in a complete new bathroom in 2 days” – it’s very easy for that to happen). The point is that this adds to the value of the house or apartment. It can also happen in a direct way – say the girlfriend is short of money with the mortgage payment coming up and the boyfriend offers to pay and this happens a few times. A real difficulty can arise if over a year the boyfriend has made 50% contribution to the mortgage and the value of the house/apartment has increased during that time. The boyfriend may have a legal argument that on a split he is entitled to 50% of the increase in the value of the property during that time. It’s likely that he will have a good case for a refund of the mortgage payments which he made during the course of the relationship.

This would mean that you may find yourself having to come up with a chunk of cash at the very time you’re trying to deal with the break-up. It might even force you into having to sell the property.

On the other hand the law does not generally view contributions for groceries, petrol expenses, shared holidays or other commodities or consumables as affecting capital values of property unless it’s specifically agreed by the couple.

My advice to this lady listener therefore is don’t take any financial contribution for the mortgage or other property related expense or even an offer of physical work on the house (bathroom etc) without going to your solicitor to get a waiver drawn up. Yes, I know that this sounds like hassle having to go to a solicitor BUT it’s an easy document to get drawn up and if you don’t you may have several very expensive trips to the courts to sort this out.

 

 The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

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