Buying a property and getting married are two of the major landmarks for couples as they progress through their lives. With the average age that couples are marrying on the rise, more and more people are jointly buying a property as unmarried partners. It is also becoming more common that individuals are contributing unequal deposits towards the property.
Laith Khatib, one of the leading solicitors here at Howells, says that some parties will often receive financial assistance from parents, which can lead to unequal contributions towards the property.
In the unfortunate event that an unmarried couple splits, each party is entitled to walk away with their own assets. This is of course unlike the separation of a married couple, where the division of jointly owned assets is dealt with according to divorce proceedings.
Mr Khatib, said: “If there is a disagreement, it is possible to ask a court to determine their rights, but that will be time-consuming, costly and stressful. The outcome of court proceedings will depend upon the unique facts of a particular case. However, the starting point for a court is always: where there is joint ownership, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, there is a presumption of equality.
“Consequently, if there is no evidence of an agreement to own the property in unequal shares, the partner who contributes the most may ultimately lose out. Similarly, half of any contribution made by a parent may end up with their child’s ex-partner.”
The advice the professionals at Howells give to unmarried couples buying a property with unequal contributions is to enter into a declaration of trust. A declaration of trust allows individuals to set out their respective shares in the property and to protect their own interests, as well as those of their parents. Such a provision should be put in place prior to the property being purchased, although it may be possible to do so after the event.
Mr Khatib added: “It is also a good idea to use a declaration of trust as an intention of equal ownership in the event of unequal contributions towards the purchase. With such an agreement in place, if the relationship were to break down then equal ownership would be honoured, irrespective of which party has made a bigger contribution.
“Also, if the party making the larger contribution dies or becomes incapable, those dealing with his/her estate will be bound by the declaration.”
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If you have found this article of interest and are yourself in a situation where you are contributing unequally to a property you are buying with an unmarried partner, call Mr Khatib at Howells Solicitors for a free initial consultation. Call 029 2040 4034 today.
I was disappointed to read the comments attributed to Theo Huckle QC the Welsh Governments Chief Legal Advisor upon the topic of Employment Tribunal Fees.
I believe it has been widely reported that the number of claims issued to the Industrial Tribunals has risen significantly in recent years and in my experience, both as the Managing Partner of a local Law Firm and as an Employer, the current system is too prone to spurious claims.
Presently any individual who feels that they may have a grievance can submit a claim to an Industrial Tribunal without it costing them a penny. The Employer is then left with the prospect of potentially spending a significant amount of time, money or both in dealing with such a claim. Many of the Employer Clients that we represent believe that it is not commercially viable to defend a claim as in so doing a considerable amount of time has to be spent in preparing and filing documentation and then attending the actual hearing itself. Furthermore there is the stress and strain of dealing with the proceedings and the fact that the case may be reported in the local press regardless of the outcome. At the end of the proceedings the Employee or former Employee then walks away from the hearing without any liability whatsoever. Frequently therefore even if the Employer feels as if they have done nothing wrong a commercial decision has to be made and invariably it is more cost effective to make a payment to an Applicant than it is to contest the proceedings. Such an outcome is hardly fair on any Employer, increases the cost of the business and prevents Employers from taking on additional staff. Mr Huckle should also bear in mind that fees have to be paid by a Claimant who wishes to bring an action for debt, breach of contract, negligence etc in the County Court and the new regulations will only bring the Employment Tribunal into line.
The current system is therefore in my view biased in favour of the Applicant who to all intents and purposes has nothing to loose by filing a claim. Further Employee or former Employee knows of the inconvenience that they will be putting the Employer to and they may be optimistic about the chances of getting something for their troubles.
Such a system does not seem to be fair or appropriate and the proposals that have been outlined will provide a much fairer platform for commerce.
Mr Huckle should bear in mind that with the economy in its current delicate state Employers should have every opportunity of flexibility and economy in their workforce and the new proposals will only assist in that regard in my opinion.
As has been specified many Claimants will be exempt from the new rules and furthermore there are many law firms who are prepared to take on good claims on a contingency (no win no fee) basis and that will undoubtedly continue which will help Employees with justified cases to make a claim and eradicate the claims with no substance – thus helping both parties.