An unmarried couple, both with housing qualifications, can buy property in joint names and have the security of jointly owning their home.
For unmarried couples where only one partner has housing qualifications, the position is more difficult. For freehold property, only the qualified partner can own it, with the unqualified partner not having the comfort of having title in his or her name. It is therefore important that couples in this situation enter into an equity agreement in order to protect the unqualified partner's position so far as legally possible. The agreement should provide that if the couple separates, the unqualified partner will be repaid his or her contribution towards the purchase and will share in the balance of the sale proceeds after mortgage and other deductions.
In addition, the qualified partner should always sign a properly drafted will leaving the property to the unqualified partner.
In the case of share transfer properties, the law does not prevent unqualified individuals from buying shares in property-owning companies and ownership can therefore be shared from the outset. However, the unqualified individual would have no right of occupation.
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