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Unmarried couples- rights to the house

By October 12, 2017January 29th, 2021Dispute Resolution

Cohabiting couple families were the fastest growing family type between 1996 and 2016, more than doubling from 1.5 million families to 3.3 million families.

Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type between 1996 and 2016 according to the ONS.When two people live together, unmarried rights can be conferred on a paying party in equity.  If a couple are married and living together and choose to separate the law is clear as to the division of assets.  The difficulty comes when an unmarried couple, or even friends for that matter, are living together, where one legally owns the property and the other contributes.The law dictates that even when there is no outright clear legal ownership if contributions have been made ‘towards the house’ then this would be sufficient for an equitable right to be found in the property.Recent case law has found that an oral assurance by a partner that financial contributions were made ‘towards the house’ were sufficient for there to be proprietary estoppel, i.e. there was an equitable right in the property.In order for an equitable right to be found, there has to be an assurance that a party will have an interest in the property.  There must thereafter be reliance on that assurance and then there must be a detriment as a result of said reliance.  If these factors are present then a claim in equity may ensue.If you have a dispute in relation to the ownership of a property and want advice as to your legal rights, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Alison Rocca

Author Alison Rocca

Alison is a solicitor in our Litigation department.

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