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Renting as a cohabiting couple

Tuesday September 20, 2022



For a lot of people, dividing property can be one of the most challenging things to do. For unmarried couples renting, things can be complex when separating depending on the financial situation and the living agreement at the time.


Renting a property – what happens if you split?

If you live with your partner and rent your property, your position can be quite simple as many tenancies tend to be 6 to 12 months long. However it is possible for you to bring it to an end earlier by simply giving notice, should your tenancy agreement allow it or if your landlord makes an exception.

If the rental property agreement has been granted by a local council or a housing association, then there can be some degree of complexity regarding the termination of the assured tenancy. For the most part, there won’t be a lot of legal issues. The considerations will be mostly practical, such as finding somewhere for the parties in question to live and retrieving the deposit. Ensuring that the rent and utilities are up to date will also be important.


The importance of a cohabitation agreement

If you are renting, your cohabitation agreement should mark out how much a partner will contribute in rent and what happens to any bills, credit cards or joint purchases should the relationship break down. This can even include a pet clause, should you have a dependent animal between you both. The last thing anyone wants to happen is for one partner to leave and stop paying, leaving the other with the bill purely because a plan was never made.

If you decide to take the plunge and move in with one another, then a cohabitation agreement will ensure that both parties have an honest conversation regarding how the bills will be paid and furnishings purchased. You can avoid conflict down the line and you can also ensure that everyone is on the same page. An agreement also means that if one partner was to pay for something, such as fitted wardrobes or even a holiday, they are then making an informed decision. It is agreed upon as to whether or not the money is expected to be repaid. If you rent a property as a joint tenant, then both people will act as single owners, meaning that both have equal rights to the rental home. 

It can be a challenging conversation, as you do not want to assume or imagine your relationship to end when the prospect of moving in together is exciting, however, much like a prenuptial agreement, it’s a sensible decision to protect your own assets down the line.


Children and financial provisions

For the most part, child maintenance will have to be paid by one parent to the other, after the separation has occurred. This can be done through the Child Maintenance Service or through mutual agreement. As the property is rented, the asset will not need to be divided. There are some grey areas when it comes to one person leaving the property. Usually, the court will favour those who are going to be the main guardian for the children, as having a stable home for them is typically a priority. Most of the time, one person will leave the rented accommodation and the other will stay, but a lot of this is dependent on the tenancy agreement. Again, having a cohabitation agreement in place will help you to clarify the situation in advance, should this occur.


Get legal advice with CWC

If you have any questions, want some legal advice, or need help drafting a cohabitation agreement, please contact us today. We have offices in Torpoint, Tavistock, Kingsbridge, Plymouth and Plymstock.


For a lot of people, dividing property can be one of the most challenging things to do.