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Cohabiting Couples – Do You Know Which of You Owns What?

Whilst love blooms, cohabiting couples often view sharing their assets and money as a measure of their commitment to each other – but the absence of legal formality in such situations is a sadly common source of dispute when relationships come to an end. Exactly that happened in one case in which a woman successfully fought off her ex-partner’s claim to a stake in her property portfolio.

The woman owned three properties. Following the acrimonious end of their relationship, her ex-partner claimed that they had treated their assets as a single pot when they were together. In what he described as a joint venture, he said that he had put much money, resources and physical effort into renovating one of her properties in particular, rendering it fit for human habitation.

In rejecting his claim, however, the First-tier Tribunal found that he had fallen far short of establishing that there was a common intention that he should have a share in the properties, which were held in her sole name. He had made no direct contribution to mortgage repayments and there had been no pooling of money.

Although the repair and maintenance work he carried out was not insignificant, it was a reflection of his desire to assist her whilst they were living together as husband and wife and was not attributable to any pecuniary self-interest on his part. She had continued to take sole responsibility for her properties, paying all outgoings, and had never promised him that his work would earn him a share in them.

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