Cohabitation Agreement: Living Together Agreement

5 min read
Cohabitation Agreement for couples living together, explained by SAM Conveyancing. A pen sits on a cohabitation agreement contract.

When you are neither married, nor civil partners, cohabitation law does not recognise your relationship in a meaningful way. In order to protect your rights to assets you share as a couple (or even as cohabiting friends) during your relationship and if it breaks down, there are a couple of legal deeds you should consider.

This depends on how you legally own the property. However, in some cases a non-owner may be able to make a claim to an interest in the property after the break down of the relationship.

If you are in dispute over rights to the property but do not have the recommended deeds in place, you should get legal advice as soon as possible. We can help.

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A deed of trust is geared around property, whether you live in it or not. And can be as simple as declaring your unequal shares, or include our floating formula to adjust your shares according to investments like repairs or extensions. It can include your intentions for what happens if you break up or if either one of you dies*.

A cohabitation agreement (aka living together agreement) is more comprehensive and can be tailored more to cover more than a deed of trust. It can also apply to property that you rent together.

What can be included in a cohabitation agreement?

  • Your financial responsibilities toward the property (including rented property) such as:
    • Mortgage Payments
    • Rent Payments
    • Bills
    • Maintenance/Repairs
  • Your intentions regarding pensions, life insurance and inheritance, if one of you dies*.
  • Other assets including:
    • Cars
    • Furniture
    • Jewellery
  • What will happen when you break up, e.g.:
    • What will happen to your shared home
    • What support will be paid for any children of the relationship
    • Who your shared pets will live with

If you are not living together a deed of trust is likely to be sufficient for concerns regarding the property only. However, couples who are living together should consider both a deed of trust and a cohabitation agreement.

It is always helpful to make sure you are on the same page about these things - rather than work of assumptions which may not be aligned. If you decide that you don't want to live together in the future, it can save you a lot of heart ache and legal fees on disputing rights and ownership.

When should I get a cohabitation agreement?

You can draw up the agreement at any stage in the relationship. It should be updated regularly, particularly if or when either of you:

  • Buy property
  • Have a child
  • Become the beneficiary of an inheritance or trust
  • Go through a significant change to financial status
  • Fall long term sick or become disabled

If you are going to be getting married or becoming civil partners you should get a pre-nup instead.

A pre-nuptial agreement works in a similar way (and should also be accompanied by a deed of trust where ownership of property is concerned) but is designed specifically to account for the legal implications of marriage and civil partnership.

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You'll need a deed of trust as well as these are more clearly enforceable in the eye of the law. Cohabitation agreements were historically void as they were perceived to contradict the sanctity of marriage. However, they are now governed by ordinary rules of contract.

In order to make a cohabitation legally binding:

  • It must be executed as a deed, and comply with contractual requirements
  • Both parties must receive independent legal advice on the terms
  • There can be no mistakes in the document

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are living together in a property, a cohabitation agreement is recommended for several reasons:
  • Make sure you are on the same page regarding financial commitments and responsibilities
  • Prevent misunderstandings about how your contributions affect your rights to the property
  • Minimise dispute and stress if you break up
  • Provide evidence of your original intentions in case either party attempts to behave unfairly if the dispute goes to court

If you share ownership of the property unequally, a deed of trust is strongly advised. Especially if either of you are making contributions toward the household which you expect to entitle you to beneficial ownership.

You can cohabit without an agreement, but you leave yourselves open to risk of losing what you may believe is yours, if you fall out and decide to live separately
Cohabitation of persons not legally married means that you live together. It is specifically used in the context of couples, who are not married or civil partners, but you could also say that you 'cohabit' with a friend who you live with.
Cohabitation agreements cost from around £600 up to 1000's of pounds. You will also then have to pay for a different solicitor to provide independent legal advice (ILA) to one of you - this ensures that you both have a legal professional advising you in your own best interests.

ILA is usually chargeable at the solicitor's hourly rate and will depend on the complexity of the agreement.

Our basic deed of trust is available for a Fixed Fee of £299 INC VAT with further fees for floating deed and cohabitation agreement.

Do you need a Cohabitation Agreement?

The process for settling a property dispute can be long and costly. Get the legal work in place so you can relax, enjoy your life together and minimise the worry of a potential break up.

Breaking up without a Cohabitation Agreement?

If things have gone sour and you don't have a legal agreement setting out your beneficial share in the property then get in contact with us and see how we can help.

We can assist with:
  • Working out your beneficial interest
  • Pre-action negotiations
  • Application to court
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Mediation
  • Court appearance

We have on hand counsel to support your claim and offer guidance along the way.

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If you're thinking about getting a cohabitation agreement, or trying to settle a property dispute without one, we can help.

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