As family solicitors we are usually faced with the unfortunate circumstance of relationship breakdown and the inevitable distribution of financial resources. For those of you thinking of embarking on the joint venture of a house purchase, read on.
With ever-increasing house prices, young couples setting out together are frequently relying on the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' to get them on the first rung of the property ladder. But what happens if the paddle into domestic bliss ends in stormy waters?
Scenario 1: The unhappy couple
Mum and Dad paid the entire deposit for Rebecca to buy a house with her boyfriend, Brett. However, Rebecca lost her job and Brett has been maintaining the mortgage payments ever since. Brett stopped going to the gym since they moved in together and put on a few stone, and Rebecca became bored without a job and started seeing Dave.
Brett found out and now wants Rebecca to move out, allowing him to remain in the house. Rebecca wants to sell the house and use her parents' deposit to pay for a round-the-world trip to get over the break-up.
However, Brett is claiming that the deposit was a gift to them both and as he has been paying the mortgage for the past 3 years he is offering Rebecca a minimal amount to have the property transferred to him. Rebecca is tempted by Brett's offer, as it will be just enough for her round the world trip. She isn’t too bothered about her parents as they never liked Brett and don’t understand her need to escape for 6 months to 'find herself'.
Scenario 2: The university friends
Ben and Andy were at university together and spent 3 years saving for their 5% deposit to enable them to purchase a new house together on Elm’s Estate with the Help to Buy Loan scheme. This made sense as neither of them could afford to buy a house on their own and they had got on well at university, sharing a rented house together during the second and final years.
Shortly after moving into the 2 bedroom home, Andy meets Clarissa and she is spending an ever-increasing time at The Elms. Ben isn’t too happy about this; after all it was supposed to be a lad’s house and Clarissa’s arrival on the scene has meant an abundance of cushions on the sofa making it very difficult to find the remote control - or perhaps Clarissa is hiding it to stop him watching Sky Sports?
Ben has had enough. He wants his deposit back. He’s also seen a Harley Davidson for sale and decides that he is far too young to settle down - Clarissa has put him off any romantic ideas - and wants to embark on a sponsored road trip from London to Sydney.
How can we help?
Solihull's family law experts, Sam Kent and Jane Chandler, are able to advise and draft cohabitation agreements which records agreement between two or more people who live together or intend to live together, setting out the rights and responsibilities in relation to the property and the financial arrangements both during and after cohabitation.
The agreement can record the beneficial interest each party has in the property as well as setting out the ownership of personal property such as furniture, antiques and art which the cohabitees can enjoy the use of while cohabitating but return to the owner should cohabitation end.
In addition, a Declaration of Trust will record the parties’ respective beneficial interests in the property and will hold more weight should matters become contested.