Co-owing your house

A client asked what she should do about a house she and her life partner bought together. There is a bond over the property, and they are separating.

They own the property 50-50 and are jointly liable to the mortgagee. The rationale for buying the property in the first place in their joint names was to share the burden of bond repayments and maintenance costs.

We advised her to agree in writing with her partner to record their respective rights and obligations on what will happen with the property when they separate.

In an ideal world, couples should enter into a co-ownership agreement before they buy the property, recording such things as:

  • Their ownership proportions (if not 50-50)
  • How much will each contribute to the bond and property maintenance (if not equally)
  • What will happen if the parties go their separate ways (will they sell, or will one party stay in the property and buy the other one out)
  • What happens if one party dies or becomes unable to keep up their payments to the partnership expenses

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