How do you split the house if you split up? What are your property rights?
What property rights do you have when splitting up from your partner or spouse?
Splitting up is never an easy thing. It can be even more complicated if you have a house together with a mortgage – but do you know your property rights?
Top 1o reasons couples split:
- Bad behaviour – smoking, drinking, betting, etc
- Cheating – was it a kiss or a full-blown affair
- Misdirected anger – you’ve had a bad day, now everyone must suffer
- Being unsupportive – work as a team, or it won’t work
- Toxic people – may be a control issue or a negative influence
- No affection and attention – listening, hand-holding, cuddling, (and yes, sex)
- Lying – do it, and your mate will lose all trust in you
- Stealing – financial issues account for over 30% of divorces
- Giving up – it’s what happens when you don’t put the hard work in
- Not communicating – the more you talk, the better you will feel
Here’s a quick guide on your legal rights if you split up from your other half and own a property together, mainly if you want to sell it.
Property Rights – Joint Ownership
If you and your partner both have your names on the title deeds, you jointly own your home, in which case you have equal rights over the property.
In this situation, your options are as follows:
- > Sell the property, divide the proceeds
- > One buys the other out
- > Transfer some or all your interest in the home to your partner
- > Keep the house and rent it out
There are two ways you can have joint ownership:
- Joint Tenants – both parties have a 50/50 equal share in the property.
- Tenants in Common – one party has more of a share than the other. If you and your partner/spouse split up and want to end the Joint Tenancy, you need to write to your ex to inform them. However, they don’t have to agree to go along with it.
Another route is for one party to come off the mortgage – leaving it in just one name, which is only possible if the person remaining on the mortgage can afford the repayments on their own. However, it can benefit the person coming off the mortgage as they will no longer be responsible for future repayments. They can apply for another mortgage on another property. If you go down this route, you also need to ensure that your credit files are separated, as any future debts or loans could personally affect you, and vice-versa, if you remain connected.
If you remain on the mortgage, it is wise to contact your mortgage lender to explain that you and your partner/spouse have separated. Doing this will prevent either party from taking cash out by increasing the mortgage or even taking out other loans on the property without your knowledge or consent. They can also help you if you’re unsure you can manage the payments as you no longer have your partner/spouse contributing towards it. One way is a ‘guarantor mortgage’ – it allows a close friend or relative to pay your mortgage payments for you if you find yourself struggling.
If the Property is in One Person’s Name
If your property is in just one name, then the other person has no rights over the property or any money from the sale after the mortgage is redeemed.
Suppose you contribute to mortgage payments or improvements to the property. In that case, you have a ‘beneficial interest that entitles you to continue living there and even receive a share of the proceeds when it sells.
Note: this is a very complicated legal area, and we recommend that you first seek advice from a legal practitioner.