Unmarried Couple Property Ownership

Unmarried Couple Property Ownership

 Owning Property whilst unmarried

Owning a property in your sole name would only entitle a non-owning partner to have a share in that property, either by agreement such as a Declaration of Trust (a document confirming the intention of both parties as to how a property should be held) or through costly Court Proceedings under the Trusts of Land Act.  Any financial contribution by the non-owner, therefore, should be carefully considered.

Purchasing a property in joint names can raise other issues.  If there are uneven contributions, e.g., money is gifted from the family or come from one party’s pre­-existing assets then this should ideally be recognised in the legal title.

There are two ways of owning property.  Commonly a property might be owned as “Joint Tenants”.  There are no specified shares in the property and on the death of one of the parties the property is left in full to the survivor.  On a split of the parties during their lifetime the law will presume that each is entitled equally to a share and to prove otherwise involves costly litigation.

Alternatively, a property can be owned as “Tenants in Common” where individual shares are set out.  This might also be accompanied by a Declaration of Trust document which would confirm how and when the house might be sold on the death of one of the owners and might give a right to delay the sale if there are children of the family so that time for re-housing is required.  Here a share of the property would not automatically go to the co­-owner on death.

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Chartered Legal Executive and Associate
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