With the challenges of Covid-19 there are likely to be many families who are reviewing not just where they live, but also who they live with. Whether this is something you are thinking about now or in the future, any family considering multi-generational living have a number of legal considerations to take into account.
It may surprise you to know that there are already nine million households with adults from different generations living together in the UK, although many of these are young adults who are living at home to help save money.
If you plan to buy a new house with family members – perhaps a house with a ‘granny annexe’ then you need to consider how the property will be funded who is contributing to the purchase price and is there going to be a gift, loan or advance on an inheritance to help with the costs? Don’t’ forget that there will also be a number of other costs to factor in such as Stamp Duty Land Tax, which depending on the value of the property can be very high.
Consider if ownership of the property is going to be divided equally or in shares, will it be owned by a family trust, what happens if one person wants to sell their share? Also think about the issues such as to what happens if there is a divorce, a new marriage, in the event someone loses a job and struggles with mortgage payments, a new cohabiting partner moving in or on the event of a death in the future. Take legal advice to understand all of the options, as every situation will be different and there may also be Inheritance Tax considerations to plan for. Having an up-to-date Will in place is also important once the purchase is completed.
Sub dividing a property into two or more dwellings can also come with legal challenges. You will also need legal advice to look at the property’s registration at the land registry to ensure there are no restrictive covenants, consider issues such as access arrangements, boundaries, utility/service supply provisions, if planning permission is needed and of course the tax implications of the arrangement you are proposing.
Subdivision also applies where land – perhaps a large garden or land with redundant agricultural buildings is going to be used to build a new residential dwelling. The main consideration here aside from obtaining planning permission is that the title deeds will need to be divided into two or more new titles. Your solicitor will guide this process and again there may be a number of other issues including tax planning to take into account.
If there is a mortgage on the existing property then your solicitor will also need to check you are not breaching the terms of the lending secured on the property, by this or any other activity.
Whilst multi-generational living makes sense given the difficulties experienced by many families due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to make sure you get it right to avoid any disagreements in the future.
Alan Williams can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org