The residential property market has notably picked up in recent weeks following the ‘Covid slump’. Particularly now individuals are looking to make the most of the Government’s recent announcement on Stamp Duty Land Tax relief, with couples moving in together.
Whilst buying a house with your partner is an exciting next step in your lives together, it’s really important that you consider the practical and financial implications of moving in together, and what would happen in the unlikely event the relationship breaks down.
It is often said that you do not know your partner until you move in with them and this is can be very true. To try and avoid any potential hidden surprises, it is essential that you ask yourself the following questions and discuss what the responses mean in practical terms with your partner.
#1 – Are you on the same relationship page?
For one of you the idea of moving in together may be a step closer to marriage and / or children. For the other, it may be that marriage and / or children do not feature in their future. Make sure you do not base your relationship on assumptions. It is essential for you both to understand each others aspirations for the future of your relationship.
#2 – What are your financial positions?
You may think that you know your partner’s financial position and your partner may think they know yours. You may not have discussed your salaries, savings or debt positions as yet but have made assumptions based on job titles, the cars you drive, the possessions you own or the holidays you go on.
If you have not discussed the details you may be in for some surprises later on. It is a difficult but essential conversation to have before you move in together and may impact on the financial contributions you are each able to make to the relationship both now and in the future.
#3 – What are your philosophies on spending and saving?
It is only natural that some of us are heavy spenders and some of us are savers, but leading on from your discussions about your specific financial positions, it is essential for you each to understand whether you hold the same philosophies or whether you hold very different views on spending and saving before you move in together. Who is going to pay what?
#4 – Will you be renting or buying property?
If neither of you own a property and instead plan on renting together, will both of you be named as tenants in the tenancy agreement? (The answer will ideally be yes). Will both of you be paying an equal amount towards the deposit and ongoing rent? It is essential that you do not make assumptions to ensure that you know where you both stand when it comes to renting property together and what will happen should your relationship breakdown.
One of you may have a deposit and be in a position to buy a property, one of you may already own your own property or you may be ready to buy together. In all circumstances, you need to decide what your contributions will be and what your intentions are going forward.
Whether you own a property jointly or separately could have a severe impact on your finances. You should also consider what should happen if one of you were to die or if you were to separate. It is essential that you discuss what your plans are when buying a property or moving in with a partner who already owns a property and seek legal advice to understand your legal positions.
#5 – What will your financial contributions be going forward?
Going forward whether you plan on renting or buying a property together, how will you split utilities and household expenses? It may be that depending on each of your financial positions you wish to split contributions equally or unequally. It is essential to discuss what contributions you will each make.
Moving in together is an exciting step in any relationship, however, sitting down together and having frank discussions about your financial positions, hopes, aspirations and any agreements you reach in terms of managing your finances are essential. The questions above are not intended to be a conclusive list. If you are going to reach any agreements in relation to property and finances they should be recorded in writing just in case the worst should happen to either of you.
It is therefore essential to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement which sets out how you will manage your property and finances together and what should happen in the event that your relationship breaks down or one of you dies. A Cohabitation Agreement can save a significant amount of stress and cost that a dispute over these issues could involve and allows you both to enter into the relationship knowing exactly where you stand.