Buying a house together when you’re not married

Posted on May 30, 2011 in Commercial Real Estate, Personal Representation

In today’s society, many adults choose to live together before they marry, or choose to make a long-term commitment to one another without formalizing the relationship with a marriage certificate, or cannot legally marry because the state in which they reside does not recognize a union between two adults of the same gender. As a result, many adults are opting to purchase property together without being legally married.

If you or someone you know is thinking about buying property with his or her cohabitating partner, there are a number of questions that should be considered, preferably before the property is purchased. How these questions are answered may have future (sometimes unintended) consequences. What follows is a non-exhaustive list:

1. Who will pay any down-payment toward the purchase?

2. Whose name(s) will be on any mortgages?

3. How will title to the property be taken?

4. With what funds will any monthly mortgage payments be made?

5. Who will be financially responsible for the payment of any utilities, taxes, or costs of maintenance and repairs?

6. What will happen if one of the partners fails to fulfill his or her duties with respect to the property?

7. What will happen to the property if the relationship ends?

Many of these issues are not specifically addressed by Virginia law since cohabitation is not a recognized legal status. However, you should speak with a lawyer to determine what, if anything, you, as a potential owner of real estate with a cohabiting partner, can do to protect your interests.