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How can we protect our share of a property if we split up?

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What legal measures do I need to consider in the event of a split, if I buy a property with my partner? We are not married. 

If you are looking to buy a property with a partner, it is wise to do some research beforehand

 If you are looking to buy a property with a partner, it is wise to do some research beforehand

Myra Butterworth, MailOnline Property expert replies: If you are looking to buy a property with a partner, it is wise to do some research beforehand to ensure that you are financially protected in the event of a split further down the line.

There are steps you can take to ensure that you are not made homeless should a split occur, with perhaps the most important of these being making sure that you are registered at the Land Registry.

We speak to a legal expert about your options and how to set things up legally before embarking on buying a property with someone.

Stephen Gold, ex-judge and author, explains: Much more important than winning the argument over whether the bedroom walls should be painted pink or black with white stripes is getting yourself registered at the Land Registry as a joint proprietor: effectively, having your name on the deeds.

The reason for this is that, should your relationship break down, the law will treat you differently than someone coming out of a failed marriage or civil partnership.

 For cohabitees breaking up, the law is rubbish

For them, the law says that whatever is owned – whether in the name of just one of the parties or in the names of them both – should be divided fairly.

For cohabitees breaking up, the law is rubbish. But with you down as a joint owner, the profit – and, hopefully, not the loss – on a future sale will be paid out according to how much of the property you own.

Since I was in nappies, they have been talking about treating separating couples in a similar way to separating spouses – and, more recently, civil partners – but it has never happened. I am prepared to wager my law books that the law will change. Alas, not yet.

What if you put in unequal amounts? 

When the property is transferred to you both, the documentation will indicate the shares you each own.

If, as is most common, you own as ‘joint tenants’ this will almost certainly result in an equal split.

However, the documentation may specify different shares – particularly where one party has come up with most, if not all, of the cash being put down, or will be paying the lion’s share of the outgoings, including the mortgage instalments.

Then, the documentation will say that you own as ‘tenants in common’ and specify the shares.

Couples often decide that when the property comes to be sold, they should each have the cash deposit they put in returned to them and that, after deduction of the mortgage and the sale expenses, the balance should be equally divided.

On the other hand, there is no legal objection to one party having a one-half interest in the entire profit on sale, despite the fact that they have not made a cash contribution or contributed towards the mortgage. A test of how true is the love of the party with the dosh.

The law does recognise that a couple’s intentions about the shares in the home that they own may change over the course of time.

In a Supreme Court case, cohabitees bought an Essex property for £30,000 in 1985 on the basis they were 50/50 owners. 

Thirteen years later it was worth £245,000. By then the couple had separated with the woman staying in the house and looking after the parties’ two children and paying all outgoings. 

It was ruled that the parties’ intentions about shares was presumed to have changed with the woman’s interest having risen to 90 per cent.

As a joint owner, the profit - and, hopefully, not the loss - on a future sale will be paid out according to how much of the property you own

As a joint owner, the profit – and, hopefully, not the loss – on a future sale will be paid out according to how much of the property you own

Beware lies that one party may peddle 

‘You’re going through a divorce right now. I won’t put your name on the deeds as this could mess up the financial case between you and your hubby.’ 

Or ‘as you’re not yet 21, you’ll have to stay off the deeds for the time being.’ And even ‘the building society say that the flat must be in my sole name as you’re not working.’

These are the sort of lies that one party may peddle to the other as an excuse for keeping their name off the deeds.

Stephen Gold is a retired judge and author

Stephen Gold is a retired judge and author

Courts have been known to treat them as the truth, and so use them as evidence that the liar actually intended the other party to have an interest in the property.

So you see, the fact that your name has been left off the deeds does not mean that you cannot successfully claim an interest in the property. 

You would need to prove that you both intended you should have an interest – there was an agreement or understanding between you to this effect which could even have come about some time after the purchase – and that you acted to your detriment in the reasonable belief that you were acquiring this interest. It is known as a constructive trust claim.

A financial contribution towards the purchase price or repayment mortgage instalments, or carrying out or bearing the cost of substantial improvements would be good evidence of an intention that you should have an interest and of you acting to your detriment.

Get it in writing

There is nothing to legally prevent your partner adding you as a joint owner even when you were originally left out.

‘You have been abusing me for years. I’m off unless you make me a joint owner in the house now.’ I’ve heard of that one more than once. A share in the property can be transferred over, although the mortgage lender’s consent will probably be required.

Alternatively, your partner can sign a document – a ‘declaration of trust’ is what all the best lawyers call it – in which they make it clear that they now regard you as a joint owner and the amount of your share.

Best to have a lawyer deal with it and the step to be taken at the Land Registry, to ensure they cannot surreptitiously sell or mortgage the property while you are out doing the shopping.

Should the property go into joint names, the couple may want to have a trust deed drawn up which dictates a variety of things such as how they will contribute towards the mortgage, and what would be the impact on their share in the event of them financing major works of improvement.

Proprietary estoppel

Yes, it does sound painful but it could be pleasurable. This is the title of another legal argument that can be put forward when you are off the deeds.

You can score here if able to prove that your partner made a promise to you about the property – commonly, it’s that you could live there for as long as you wanted – which you relied on to your substantial detriment and that your partner has acted in a morally unacceptable way.

For example, take Mr T, who was cautious and guarded. He told Mrs B that he was against marriage but that she and her two young daughters would always have a home and be secure in the Droitwich house he was buying in his sole name.

On the strength of that she gave up her tenancy in Manchester, shelled out around £4,000 towards the new house and she and the girls moved in.

Around nine years later, the relationship was over and she and the girls were homeless. Mr T had broken his promise, which was unconscionable. She was awarded £28,500 reflecting what the money she had put into Droitwich and Manchester was worth when her case was heard.

When there are children

If you have children under 18 by your partner and you are their carer, you will want a roof over all your heads. But say you are not on the deeds and none of the delightful arguments I have mentioned are available to you, what then?

A court application can be made under schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989. Your partner could at least be ordered to make the home available for occupation by you and the children, with your partner out of it, while the children are completing their education – up to first degree – or make available another property they may own, for the same purpose.

You will find more on financially protecting yourself before and during cohabitation from the standpoint of both parties, plus making a claim against the estate of a partner who has died without making provision for the survivor in my book ‘The Return of Breaking Law’.

Stephen Gold is an ex-judge and author of ‘The Return of Breaking Law’ published by Bath Publishing. For more on service charges, go to breakinglaw.co.uk 

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How to create a reading nook for children in your home

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Nooks to inspire a love of books: It’s easy to create a space for little ones to pick up a page-turner

  • Every child should have somewhere to fall into a book at home 
  • The ideal kids’ reading nook requires three things: comfort, secrecy, and storage 

Children’s books should be enjoyed in private. They should be read under the covers by torchlight after the grown-ups think you’ve gone to sleep; or hidden in treehouses with a supply of chocolate biscuits – anywhere where monsters, pirates and school chums can climb through the window.

Every child should have somewhere to fall into a book. A book nook, if you will. And it doesn’t take a lot of effort to create one. 

As children’s book author and critic Imogen Russell Williams says: ‘The ideal kids’ reading nook requires three things: comfort, secrecy, and convenient storage for an array of books and snacks.

Reading space: A simple small chaise longue can create a comfortable spot for young ones to enjoy books

Reading space: A simple small chaise longue can create a comfortable spot for young ones to enjoy books

‘Enclosed, cosy and full of soft, warm light, the best reading dens provide the perfect launchpad for a child’s imagination.’

Here are some suggestions.

Swathed in cotton

You can go Princess And The Pea by curtaining off a little cranny with a swirling, regal canopy from The Handmade Scandi Company. These come in pink, white, lavender or ‘cloud’ and cost £56.

For added twinkle, string fairy lights around and switch off the main light. Hey presto: stars in a night sky.

Looking for a canopy in bolder colours? The Rainforest Reading Corner Canopy from TTS Group will brighten up the reading corner (£71.99).

Inhabit an alcove

Find an existing little cranny and put it to good use. Throw in a few cushions, put up some bookshelves and string a curtain across so the mini-reader can shut him or herself away. 

The Kura bed curtain from Ikea comes with windows so your offspring can pop their head out from time to time (£25).

In their own world: Clambering into a tepee in the corner of the bedroom feels like an adventure in itself

In their own world: Clambering into a tepee in the corner of the bedroom feels like an adventure in itself

Reading tent

Clambering into a tepee in the corner of the bedroom feels like an adventure in itself. And the little reader can fall asleep among the pages. 

Argos sells a lovely bear-themed tepee made by Chad for £40. Or if you want to build a tepee together, just six bamboo poles and bedsheets held in place with clothes pegs will do the trick.

Build it

Natural light is great, especially for picture books. If you have a big window and can construct some seating around it, it makes a fab place to read of derring-do while staring out to imagine the action. If the window isn’t low down, a ladder up to the seat will add to the fun.

What goes inside

Make furniture comfy and a bit flexible. Your offspring may want to read sitting up or lying down, so some kind of small chaise longue should work well. 

The Handmade Sofa Company’s child-size chaise range is from £425. 

Or if you prefer something that looks like a miniature armchair and pouffe, John Lewis’s £72 Stardust bean bag chair and footstool will look stylish.

Add a desk, and encourage the child to respond to the book — writing their own sequel starring themselves. Ikea’s Micke costs £50.

To kit it all out in matching style, The Great Little Trading Company has a series of themed book storage boxes, display racks, rugs and bean bags. 

Or, if space is limited, you can buy ready-made seat/storage combos, such as the Children’s Bookcase from Little Helper for £97.

Savings of the week! Throws 

Snug: Oliver Bonas's Ena Blue Hand Woven Throw is reduced from £45 to £27

Snug: Oliver Bonas’s Ena Blue Hand Woven Throw is reduced from £45 to £27

You can call a throw a rug or a blanket — which takes its name from a weave first made by Thomas Blanket (Blanquette), a Flemish weaver who lived in Bristol in the 14th century.

But, whichever you choose, you are sure to be snug in bed, or on your sofa if you select one of the reduced price options in cosy fabrics.

The Cotswold Company has a moss grey, chunky-knit blanket reduced from £55 to £40. 

Wayfair’s wide range includes the Christy Oslo throw in the same chunky grey knit, down from £80 to £66.99. 

Made.com has a faux fur throw in a rich cinnamon shade down from £62 to £40. Oliver Bonas’s Ena Blue Hand Woven Throw is also reduced from £45 to £27, a cut of 40 per cent. 

Faux fur is set to be hugely popular this winter. But if you don’t feel the cold, but want to add colour to a room, Habitat’s Paloma knitted cotton throw comes in cobalt blue and saffron yellow. Its price is £17.50, a saving of £20 (argos.co.uk).

Anne Ashworth 

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DL Invest Group secures €123m financing for Polish logistics portfolio

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Macquarie Capital Principal Finance has provided €123.4m in the form of a senior secured loan to DL Invest Group. The three-year facility will be funded using capital from Macquarie’s balance sheet. The loan is secured against 10 modern logistics assets across Poland, comprising of 193,000m² constructed by DL Invest Group over the last 5 years and is fully let to major international companies.

 

Alexi Antolovich, Global Co-Head Real Estate, Macquarie Capital Principal Finance said: “This transaction demonstrates Macquarie’s ability to utilise its balance sheet to find capital solutions to support its clients, notwithstanding a challenging macroeconomic environment. This transaction involves a strong portfolio managed by an excellent team at DL Invest Group. We are pleased to support DL Invest Group’s continuous growth and believe this is the first transaction of a fruitful collaboration over the years to come.”

 

Dominik Leszczynski, CEO of DL Invest Group commented: “We are delighted to unlock capital for our next stage of growth as a tenant orientated developer and long-term investor-owner of assets. Macquarie was pragmatic throughout the process, in a period of heighted volatility for Polish capital markets. We worked together to create a bespoke transaction that allows DL Invest Group to continue its strong investing track record.”

 

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What will stamp duty changes mean for your house-moving plans?

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The headlines this week have centred on mortgage mayhem and interest rates — but there’s one piece of good news to consider.

Thousands of house buyers completing their purchases in the past seven days have already benefited from the stamp duty cut announced by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in his controversial mini-Budget, and property website Zoopla says 43 per cent of all homes on the market now attract no stamp duty at all.

The Government says the cut will help stimulate the flagging economy and there are some signs that it’s working.

Savings: Thousands of house buyers completing their purchases in the past seven days have already benefited from the stamp duty cut

Savings: Thousands of house buyers completing their purchases in the past seven days have already benefited from the stamp duty cut

Rightmove says visits to its house sales adverts soared 10 per cent just after the mini-Budget and the number of sales agreed on Tuesday this week was the highest in one day since early August.

The website says this week’s fall-throughs — the number of sales collapsing — are entirely in line with long-term averages.

So with all eyes on the housing market, here’s what’s changing and what’s not…

What are the new stamp duty rates?

There’s no tax on the first £250,000 of the property price — up from £125,000. Higher priced homes are unchanged, so buyers pay 5 per cent duty of the portion from £250,001 to £925,000, then 10 per cent from £925,001 to £1.5 million. You pay 12 per cent on the price above £1.5 million.

Are they the same for first-time buyers?

They pay no stamp duty on properties up to £425,000 (previously £300,000) and 5 per cent on purchases up to £625,000 (it used to be £500,000).

After this week’s furore, will the change be reversed?

Highly unlikely. The change kicked in as the Chancellor spoke on September 23, so thousands have already benefited. 

And Liz Truss doubled down on the cut ahead of this weekend’s Tory party conference, telling the BBC she is ‘very clear the Government has done the right thing’ by taking action ‘to deal with inflation, to deal with the economic slowdown and to deal with the high energy bills’.

What will we pay to move to a new £350,000 home?

Up to £250,000 you now pay no stamp duty — a saving of £2,500 thanks to the Chancellor’s new measure. 

On the portion from £250,001 and £350,000 you pay 5 per cent, which is £5,000. So that’s £5,000 stamp duty on the whole price instead of £7,500 — saving £2,500.

Will the cut send prices soaring?

Again, highly unlikely. First, £2,500 is a handy sum but not enough to convince people not already intending to buy.

Relief: Up to £250,000 you now pay no stamp duty - a saving of £2,500 thanks to the Chancellor¿s new measure

Relief: Up to £250,000 you now pay no stamp duty – a saving of £2,500 thanks to the Chancellor’s new measure

Second, it’s a permanent cut, not the temporary holiday we saw in the pandemic, so people don’t have to rush to buy immediately. 

And, third, there are many more homes on sale today than earlier this year, so demand isn’t far ahead of supply and price rises are moderating.

Could sellers put up their asking prices?

It’s possible — and some will — but this is unwise. With fears that interest rates could hit 6 per cent next year, buyers are very cost-sensitive right now. An unreasonable asking price will mean your home sits on the shelf for months.

Will the cut be wiped out by higher interest rates?

Forty per cent of mortgage deals have been withdrawn temporarily — most will return with higher costs. 

But, remember, government figures show 36 per cent of homes are owned outright with no mortgage. 

Of the rest, it’s estimated three-quarters are on fixed interest rates so won’t see an immediate rise in costs.

For buyers from these groups, the stamp duty saving is genuine and not lost in higher mortgage repayments.

I’m planning to downsize — is there any help for me?

Afraid not. Many housing experts want stamp duty to be tapered to incentivise older owners to move to smaller homes, freeing up bigger houses for families. 

But apart from the Chancellor’s blanket change in the threshold at which duty kicks in, there’s nothing customised for the retiring or older homeowner.

Is Kwasi boosting landlords and holiday home buyers?

With the cost of living crisis, these groups aren’t seen as a priority. So while they save up to £2,500 like everyone else, the 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-lets and weekend cottages introduced back in 2016 stays in place. 

And, this week, Labour hinted there might be further taxes on landlords if it wins power.

What’s going on in Wales and Scotland?

Wales’S stamp duty, called the Land Transaction Tax, changes on October 10, after which there will be no tax on homes under £225,000 — up from £180,000 — with small rises for homes over £345,000.

There’s no change to Scotland’s Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, but a budget north of the border on October 24 may change all that.

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