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Co-habitees property rights

There are many issues that can arise when co-habiting couples decide to part ways, particularly when it comes to ownership of their home and unravelling the financial details.

Most co-habitation disputes over property centre on one party asserting that the legal ownership of the property is not an accurate representation of the true ownership.

This issue can arise when either the property is held in one partner’s name and the other claims an interest, or because although the property is jointly owned, one partner considers their interest to be greater, perhaps because they have lived there for longer or invested more time and work into the property. Increasingly as parents and grandparents step in to help fund the deposit for a first property, there may be an unequal financial interest that one party wants to address.

If there is no clear cohabitation agreement, the court will need to conduct a detailed investigation into the parties’ investment into the property. This can be a lengthy and stressful process but could be avoidable.

Julie Hobson comments: “It is really important for people to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement when they decide to live together. The agreement provides a clear record of intention in the event of the breakdown of the relationship. Life moves on so quickly and circumstances change, but a written agreement can help to set out not just the original position, but also the future intentions of both parties.”

Julie Hobson can be reached at