One of us already owns the house and has a mortgage – the other is “just moving in"

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Moving in together is an exciting time in any relationship. However, legally there are a number of issues that need to be considered.

Whilst this might look like one of you is just moving into your partner’s property on the face of it, the reality might be very different and the person who is not the “legal owner” of the property might well establish a “beneficial interest” in the property.

In simple terms, this means that if you separate, the person you thought had no interest in the property may be able to claim up to 50% of the equity within the property.

What is known as a beneficial interest can be established in a number of ways:

  • The intention of the parties – sometimes also referred to as a constructive trust. It should be made clear that proof of any common intention may be inferred by conduct.
  • Contribution towards repayment of the mortgage.
  • Increasing the value of the property by remedial works.
  • Contributions towards general housekeeping.
  • Proprietary estoppel – this arises where there is detrimental reliance by one party on an assurance given by another that they will acquire a right or interest in property and where it would be unconscionable not to grant a remedy.

It is therefore important that you consider matters carefully and ensure that you both fully understand the position, particularly when these matters are so complex.

It may be beneficial to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement which sets out clearly where you both stand. It is always hoped that such Agreements will never really be needed, but they do provide security so that you can get along with decorating and making a home together.

At Awdry Law our specialist Family team will be able to discuss all of the options with you so that you are able to make an informed decision surrounding the property.

Click here to arrange your free initial consultation with a member of our friendly and highly experienced Family Law team today.


Carol Dawe

Solicitor, Family Law

Contact a member of the team  

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