There has been an increase in the number of couples moving in together during the Coronavirus lockdown. Like many countries around the world, the UK government has set out strict lockdown rules since March 2020 which prohibits meeting up with anyone who doesn’t live in the same household including friends, family and even partners.
This has meant that non-cohabiting couples were left with the option of either a prolonged separation period or move in together, with the vast majority opting to move in together.
However, how many of these couples considered the legal implications of cohabitation?
The main type of claim for unmarried couples is in relation to property, hence property owners should be especially cautious. Such claims usually arise where one party makes financial or other significant contribution to a property held in the other parties’ sole name. The non-owning party could argue in future that the contribution gives rise to a beneficial interest in the property, for example, a share of the proceeds when it comes to be sold.
One effective way to overcome such claims is to put a Cohabitation Agreement in place (also known as a Living Together Agreement). This is a written agreement setting out how you share finances while living together or what happens if one of you becomes ill, dies or you split up. The agreement can cover:
- How you pay rent, mortgage or household bills.
- Finances – for example, what happens to joint bank accounts or pension.
- Property and assets purchased while living together.
- Arrangements for children or pets.
- Next of kin rights.
The key in all of this is to be clear about the intentions surrounding any financial contribution your partner may make towards your property.
Financial contributions are not limited to payment of mortgage or rent but extends to anything from contribution towards maintenance and decoration of a property to a contribution towards more substantial work like a new kitchen.
If you would like some further information about cohabitation or indeed a Living Together Agreement then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our family law team on 01277 221010.