Property Law and Cohabitation

by Kidd Rapinet on June 8, 2010

Take legal advice before buying a property jointly with another person. In a recent case the court held that cohabitants owning a home in joint names were entitled to 50% each, even though one had not lived there nor contributed to it since 1993. There was no intention to share differently from 50%. Obviously it is fairly simple to have an agreement setting out different percentages but if people fail to do this then the 50% shareholdings each still stand.

Caroline Clark, a licensed conveyancer in Kidd Rapinet’s London office, says “This case of Kernott v Jones confirmed the existing law and said that there was ‘a total lack of evidence about the parties’ intentions’. The Court of Appeal overturned the courts below, which had given the remaining cohabitant 90%. The cohabitants had bought the house together in 1985 and one moved out in 1993. The other cohabitant then paid the rest of the mortgage and funded their two children.”

If you propose to cohabit, rather than marry, then do be aware there are significant legal differences and take legal advice. It is not difficult to draw up a document ensuring the percentage shares reflect the parties’ intentions and the percentage shareholdings can even be registered at the Land Registry. Call Caroline Clark on 020 7024 8066 for further information.