‘We do not plan on getting married’: I’m moving into my boyfriend’s home. He bought it a year ago and paid off 25% of his mortgage. How do I get a stake in his home that’s fair to both of us?


My boyfriend and I would like to live together next year or so. He bought his house about a year ago and has paid about 25%. We would both like it to gradually become a partial owner. We have no plans to get married.

I don’t feel the need to become a 50% co-owner, nor could I be soon, but we just want to make sure the money I contribute to the rest of the mortgage and the money I contribute. Home improvement would not be considered just a rent.

What procedures should we follow to ensure that this situation is fair to both of us?

Starting a new life together,

Dear home,

Your letter pauses me.

Since your boyfriend already owns the home, the only way to officially add your name to the mortgage would be to refinance. With rising interest rates, it would not be prudent to do so at this time, even if this were planned.

You can be in writing without being in the mortgage. This can be done through the title insurance company or the property registration office, and it is usually a matter of filing some paperwork and paying a fee. It is important to consult a real estate attorney before doing so, as the terms of the mortgage contracts may require you to pay off the entire loan if there are changes in home ownership. Adding your name to the deed could constitute this change, depending on the language of the loan.

That said, it looks like your boyfriend isn’t considering putting your name to writing. Given that you are about to move in together, and he has already paid 25% of the house, I see why he would resist doing so.

What you have left is a “one foot in, one foot out” scenario where you have reached a kind of middle ground that seems to give you more peace of mind than real financial security.

If you agreed to a 25% shareholding for yourself, assuming it is open for renegotiation, you could sign a cohabitation agreement where you pay monthly and a shareholding in the event you split, including the terms of a purchase. or eviction in case this happens, or your boyfriend dies sooner. This would also include details about home maintenance and how much you would have to pay if a major improvement was needed, such as a new roof. It is far from ideal.

“As a financial advisor and lawyer, we should assume that the relationship will not go well because this is one of the odds, so it’s good to be prepared for that,” said Austin Frye, a lawyer who practices property law. the president and founder of Frye Financial Center in Aventura, Florida. As for financial arrangements? “If things don’t go well for the relationship, they don’t necessarily have good results.”

For these reasons, Frye supports the idea of ​​a cohabitation agreement. “If you don’t solve these problems now, they’re always out there. They’re not romantic, but the question is whether you can get it out of the way so that none of the individuals involved in this relationship have to worry about it, and that in turn could improve the relationship and not interfere with the relationship.

State laws have more real estate protections for married couples. Here’s how it works for married couples, which may be helpful in the future. Typically, a married couple buys a property as “joint tenants with survival rights,” where each would own 50% and inherit the property upon the other’s death. Alternatively, a married couple where one partner moves into the other couple’s home can establish a lifetime property, a formal agreement that would allow the party without property rights to remain there for life, thus avoiding a testamentary court.

Linda Farinola, president of the New Jersey-based Princeton Financial Group, described your plans as “messy” and advised you to consult an attorney. She told me, “The only other time I’ve seen this is if it’s commercial property and someone creates an LLC and sets out who gets the revenue and assets, but that wouldn’t work for personal property. to draw up some kind of contract and leave it in her name.Or put the property in a living trust and have the trust stimulate some formula that she would get a percentage if he died her earlier.

Warning: Your boyfriend may change the terms of this trust, depending on the trajectory of your relationship. All in all, I’m not sure this deal will serve your boyfriend, who has risked this mortgage by providing the deposit and taking over the management of the house. And, as I explained above, I’m not sure it works well for you either. It is better to pay less than the market rent and save on your own down payment on a home. You can always review this agreement later if you decide to get married and / or have children together.

But having your own financial independence is at least a way to feel empowered in a relationship and lead a happy and successful life.

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