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5 money tips for moving in together

A financial guide to cohabiting

If you're not married but decide to move in together, you may be unsure about what rights you have as a cohabiting couple. Fortunately, there are steps you can take - whatever your marital status – to make sure you’re both financially safe, so you can make the choice that makes sense for you.

Marriage rates hit a record low in 2017

1. Set some ground rules

Whether you’re buying a property together or moving into your partner's place, it’s important to set some ground rules.

Evidence your contributions

The main thing to remember is that if you move into a house that your partner owns, you have to make sure that any payment contribution you make is recognised. Otherwise, if you break up, or someone dies, you won’t have any rights to the home you created together.

Make sure you have evidence of your payment to any of the following:

Deposit

Mortgage payments

Home improvements (like an extension, or new bathroom)

88% of opposite-sex couples cohabit before getting married

2. Make a will

Although making a will might not sound like the most romantic date in the world, it means you and your partner are looking out for each other in the future.

This becomes especially important if your home is under the other’s name. The only way to make sure you won’t have to move out if they die is if a will shows you to inherit the home. 

Get a will for free in November

3. Make a cohabitation agreement

A co-habitation agreement (or "no-nup" agreement) written up sounds daunting. But put simply, it’s a record of who owns what or how you share things with your partner. Setting up some guidelines around property, money or belongings now could really help in the future should anything happen.

You can find out more about what a cohabitation agreement covers, and how to go about setting one up, on the law society website.

4. Consider setting up a joint account

Having a joint account could simplify money management and help keep track of what's coming in and out. It can also help simplify things should one of you die, with the surviving partner retaining access to funds in the joint account.

The key is to consider how you would use a joint account. Does it make practical sense to merge accounts? Perhaps a joint account for expenses works but retaining individual accounts helps provide a sense of financial freedom.

5. Think carefully about how you rent or buy a property together

If you decide to rent a place together, and both names are on the tenancy, you are equally responsible for rent and any other tenancy conditions. This also applies in the event of separation. When it comes to buying a property, there are two options available. You can be joint tenants or tenants in common.

Joint tenants

You own the property together and ownership is passed on automatically to your partner if you die. This does mean that ownership cannot be transferred to anyone else in your will.

Tenants in common

You can own different shares in the property. This means that unless the property is left to you in your partner’s will, you won’t automatically be entitled to the property if they die. 

NatWest Money Blog team

Updated November 2021
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