Buying a house together? Protect your interests!

In the current financial crisis, fewer people are splashing out on grand weddings and more couples are deciding to co-habit instead. Add this to the fact that landlords are passing on rising finance and compliance costs to their tenants, and it is hardly surprising that despite rising mortgage rates couples are aiming to purchase property rather than pay ‘dead’ rent money.

So, what are the implications of people buying property together when they are not married? And what happens if they split up, become ill or die?

The first thing to know is that legal steps can be taken to outline exactly what you want to happen in such circumstances, that will protect your interest in the property. This is important because joint property owners in England and Wales who are not married to each other do not have the same legal rights as those who are married.

All property owners, married or not, must decide whether they wish to own the property as Joint Tenants or as Tenants in Common. Joint tenants own property jointly and if one dies their share of the property automatically passes to the other. With Tenants in Common, each owner’s interests remain completely separate, and each party can leave their share to whomsoever they wish in their Will. If there is no Will, then the share will pass to the next of kin. So, it is a good idea to make a Will at the same time as purchasing the property.

Holding a property as Tenants in Common is a particularly good idea for those who are not married and where one party has made a larger financial contribution. This applies not just to ‘couples’ but also to single friends who choose to buy property together as an easier way of getting onto the property ladder.

The two most important legal documents for cohabitees to have drawn up are a Declaration of Trust and a Cohabitation Agreement. Your solicitor can do this for you.

A Declaration of Trust lays out the legal arrangements under which the parties will own shares in, fund and sell the property, and how sale proceeds will be divided. A Cohabitation Agreement drawn up by a solicitor is a legally binding document that sets out arrangements for finances, property and children, for unmarried couples whilst they are living together and if they split up, become ill or die. Without this, cohabiting couples who are not married do not have many rights!

This question has been answered by Clare Lewis, a Licensed Conveyancer with GHP Legal.

If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, book an appointment by visiting GHP Legal or contacting one of our offices:

Wrexham Office


Phone: 01978 291456

Llangollen Office:


Phone: 01978 860313

Oswestry Office:


Phone: 01691 659194

Clare Lewis

Clare Lewis

Licensed Conveyancer

Licensed Conveyancer in our Wrexham office.