In the past, social convention dictated that couples should be married before living together. Wedding gifts would traditionally be items that the couple were likely to need in their new marital home, such as kitchenware or furniture.

However, attitudes towards relationships have changed significantly over the years, and it is now more common for non-married couples to live together.

Indeed, according to the House of Commons Library, the number of cohabiting couples increased from around 1.5 million in 1996 to roughly 3.6 million by 2021, an increase of 144%.

While this means that non-married couples have more freedom to live together without fear of judgment, it could create certain challenges when purchasing a property. This is because unmarried couples do not have the same legal rights as couples who are married or in a civil partnership.

As a professional rugby player, you might move multiple times throughout your career if you play for several clubs. As a result, the challenges associated with purchasing a home could be even more pronounced.

Fortunately, if you plan accordingly before buying your home, you can ensure that both parties have the necessary protection.

Read on to learn three key points to consider when buying a property with a non-married partner.

1. Discuss your financial responsibilities

Before buying your home, you may need to discuss how you plan to fund the purchase, and the financial responsibilities of each person.

If you are buying the house outright, you will need to decide how much each person contributes, and what share of the property you will each own.

Meanwhile, if you are buying with a mortgage, many lenders will insist that both parties are named on it if the couple is married. However, non-married couples may have more freedom about the type of mortgage.

For instance, one person could take out a mortgage in their name or you could opt for a joint loan.

A joint loan may be a suitable option as you both have equal responsibility to make repayments. It could also strengthen your application and give you access to more favourable interest rates. This is because if you are both earning an income, the lender may be more likely to feel confident you can make the monthly repayments.

However, if one person has a poor credit rating or insecure work patterns, this might affect how much you can borrow.

This could be a potential problem for professional rugby players as you will likely sign temporary contracts during your playing career. Also, there is a risk of injury in professional sports, and this could mean that lenders have some concerns about the security of your income. As a result, they might offer shorter mortgage terms of 10 to 15 years to reflect the length of your playing career.

In certain cases, it may be beneficial for one person to apply for a mortgage in their name. Yet, that person would be solely responsible for repaying the loan and, in the event of a relationship breakdown, this could leave them in a difficult position.

As well as discussing what kind of mortgage is most suitable, you may need to decide how much each of you will contribute to a deposit and the monthly repayments.

Deciding how you will split costs and creating a budget before purchasing the house could help you avoid disagreements and ensure you can afford to repay the mortgage.

That said, if one person is contributing more, you may need to decide whether they are entitled to a larger share of the property in the event of a breakup. You can outline this in a cohabitation agreement (more on this later).

It is important that you have a clear understanding of precisely how you will fund the house purchase and the financial obligations of both partners before buying a home together.

2. Understand different property ownership arrangements

When buying a property with somebody else, there are two main forms of ownership to consider. They are:

  • Joint tenants: The property is jointly owned and if one person passes away, the other automatically inherits their share.
  • Tenants in common: Each person owns a portion of the property and they can treat their share however they like. This may benefit couples who want to keep their interest in the property separate.

In some circumstances, one person could be the sole owner of the property, meaning the other person does not legally own any part of the house.

When deciding which ownership arrangement is most suitable, you may need to consider what would happen if either of you passed away.

If you were tenants in common and your partner died, their share of the property would not necessarily pass to you, and vice versa. It would be passed on in the same way as the rest of their estate.

This means that, if you or they created a will and named the other partner as a beneficiary, they could inherit their portion of the property. However, either of you are free to name somebody else if you choose.

Additionally, if one of you dies without a will, your estate will be divided according to the “rules of intestacy”. Under these rules, a spouse or civil partner automatically inherits most of the estate, but a non-married partner is not legally entitled to anything. Normally, parents or siblings would inherit the estate.

As a result, the share of the property you or your partner owns may pass to another family member instead of one of you.

That is why it is important to put a will in place if you decide to purchase the property as tenants in common. This allows you to outline your wishes and ensure that you or your partner will inherit your share of the property if something happens to one of you, or that the property goes to the person of your choosing.

3. Consider putting a legal framework in place

When non-married couples purchase a property, they may face issues in the event of a breakup. This is because there is not a clear legal framework for deciding how assets should be divided in the same way there is for married couples.

A “cohabitation agreement” could provide this legal framework and protect the interests of both partners. This type of agreement outlines what share of the property each person is entitled to and how assets should be managed during a breakup. It may also describe the financial responsibilities of each person.

Additionally, you may want to explore a “declaration of trust”. This legally outlines the contribution that each person makes to the property, and how the proceeds should be shared when you sell the house.

These agreements could be especially useful in situations where one of you is contributing more to the purchase or mortgage than the other, and the couple agrees that the person paying more is entitled to a larger share of the property. A legal agreement prevents one person from attempting to argue for an equal split during a breakup, even if you verbally agreed to a different arrangement previously.

A cohabitation agreement or declaration of trust might also offer some protection if one person takes out a mortgage in their name or is the sole owner of the property, but both partners contribute to the repayments. The agreement could outline that you are both entitled to a share of the property in the event of a breakup.

Get in touch

Considering these key points before making a purchase could prevent disputes in the future and protect the interests of both partners.

If you need guidance about the most suitable way to manage your assets, then please do get in touch with us at DBL Asset Management.

Email enquiries@dbl-am.com or call 01625 529 499 to speak to us today.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate will writing.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or other loans secured on it.