Cohabitation and property: Unmarried co-owners – what documentation should you collate

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In previous blogs our specialist cohabitation team have explored the differences between property owners who are married or in a civil partnership and property owners who are not married or in a civil partnership. You can find out more about the key differences in these blogs:

https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/cohabiting-couples-property-rights/

Cohabitation Blog Category

In this piece, I felt it would be helpful to set out some information that unmarried co-owners of a property should obtain in the event of a potential dispute over how a property is owned:

A copy of the Title Register

Often your solicitor will be able to obtain this using the Land Registry portal but you can obtain a copy yourself from the Land Registry via this link: https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-property-and-land/search-the-register

This will show how you currently own the property with your partner (Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common).

A copy of conveyancing file when the property was purchased

This should contain documentation recording the intention of you and your partner when the property was purchased which is extremely important.

However, bear in mind that conveyancers are only likely to hold their files for a limited period after the property was purchased and so, this should be high on your priority list to minimise the risk of the file being destroyed. Therefore, this should always be requested at an early stage.

The TR1 document (also known as the Transfer document)

This document should be contained within the conveyancing file but if, for whatever reason, you cannot obtain a copy of your conveyancing file, you may be able to obtain a copy of the TR1 from the Land Registry using a form OC2: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/official-copies-of-documents-registration-oc2

Since 01 April 1997, the TR1 has contained a box which allows co-owners, at the point of purchase/transfer, to express how they intend to own the property which is in effect a declaration of trust.

This information will be really important in the event of a dispute between co-owners as to how they intended to own the property.

Declaration of Trust

It is possible to have a standalone declaration of trust document (separate to anything contained within the TR1). If you and your partner have entered into one of these then a copy of this document will need to be obtained. If you don’t have a copy at home, the solicitor who prepared it is likely to have a copy (provided the file hasn’t since been destroyed).

Letters/emails/informal written agreements

In some circumstances it may be that there is no formal documentation regarding the agreement reached but that it was written in letters, emails or notes at some point after the property was purchased. If that is the case then you should collate these documents into chronological order as your solicitor will need to review them.

The above is not designed to be an exhaustive list and, alongside this documentation, further information will be required should there be a dispute in the future with your partner. However, these documents are ones that I would typically want to consider at a very early stage and therefore, the earlier they are obtained the more quickly you can be advised by your solicitor about your position, and potential claim you may have against the property (or indeed whether you are open to any claim by your former partner).

If you are a cohabiting home owner and want to put everything in place to minimise the risk of a dispute over your property in the future, or if your relationship is breaking down and there is an issue over properly, please contact us for a confidential discussion.

6 responses on “Cohabitation and property: Unmarried co-owners – what documentation should you collate

  1. I bought my house on my own 5 years ago. I have two children with my partner who are 7 months old.
    My partner gives me ?400 towards living expenses and pays the sky bill. If we break up can he legally be entitled to a share of my house?

    1. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we cannot comment upon specific circumstances in reply to this blog. However, I would suggest that you look into putting a cohabitation agreement in place. If we can assist on a more formal basis then please let us know.

  2. I have lived with my partner in in his house for two years. He has bullied me and treated me like his little pet! Every time If I have gone to leave he has lured me back. He?s controlled me and he?s won.

    He has written me a card every Saturday night without fail telling me how much he loves me
    And would be nothing without me ! I have helped with food shopping and bought him expensive gifts and clothes but he has always been the bread winner. And there has been no formal arrangement in image to shock I appreciated as I was at rock bottom when I met him.

    I have him around ?5000 worth of art and bought bits for the Horne .
    He has taken the front door key off of me I have no way of getting in now after two years of being together I can only get in of he is there and I have to stand knocking ! It?s embarrassing!!

    I don?t want a lot i would never do that to him . I just feel that after all the pain he has put me through the lies the deceit the dishonour, that he could at least give me 6 months rent to set me up while I get on my feet in a new job. Which would equate to about 5k Max . He has a pension pot of at least 180k

    I have been bruised and battered and mentally drained by this man ! Yet I love him too. It?s crazy! He has a skill of drawing me back . He knows I have nothing and an hour away from any family but none of my family can put me up.

    Am I being mean even thinking about him at least setting me up for 6 months . He has been brutal to me !

    I just don?t know anymore !!!!!

    1. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide specific advice within this blog. However, assuming that you are not married and you do not have children, there is no legal obligation upon your partner to provide financial support to you. Instead, you would need to establish that you had an interest in the property. I have attached a link to a blog providing information on this here: https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/property-rights-for-unmarried-couples/ and if we can assist on a formal basis then please let us know.

  3. Hi, I have been with my partner for 16 years and the relationship with a few breakups along the way. I am the sole owner of the house and he does not financially contribute to the upkeep of house or bills. We have two children together. If we spilt up is he entitled to claim on house?

    1. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we cannot provide specific advice within this blog. I would suggest that you obtain advice from a specialist family solicitor who is a member of Resolution. If we can assist on a formal basis then please let us know.

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