My partner and I lived together in his house. How can I claim my share of the property now that we have separated?

Sep 30, 2022

People often come to us for advice on their rights after a breakup. The details and legal options obviously vary from case to case, but a common theme is clients’ surprise that cohabitation offers so much less protection than marriage or civil partnership.

They do not expect this, particularly as more and more of us are choosing to live together rather than formalise the relationship. However, the law has not developed to give cohabitees the same rights as married couples or civil partners, even though many people see little practical difference.

Where a property is owned by just one of you (meaning it’s just their name on the title deeds), the other will need to show that some sort of right to a share, or a right to remain, in that property exists. This is unlike the situation in which a property is owned jointly. Sole ownership does not mean that the non-owner has no rights whatsoever, but legal advice will be needed to help achieve a fair outcome.

This could mean establishing a ‘beneficial interest’ in the property, perhaps by showing that:

-          You made regular payments toward the mortgage

-          You paid for significant work to be done on the house

-          Your ex-partner told you that you would have a share in the property and you relied on this to your detriment.

There are various arguments that can be made, depending on the circumstances. It is, therefore, important to look into your options if you are the partner who stands to lose out because the legal paperwork does not support you. While you may not have anticipated a situation in which you move out with little or nothing to show for years of living together, all may not be lost.

We urge clients to think about this when they are buying their homes. Being very clear about how the property will be owned – solely or jointly – is so important. Equally, it is sensible to have your eyes wide open when moving into a partner’s home and to protect yourself as best as possible. Agreeing on the legal basis on which you will be living together is vital. A formal Declaration of Trust drafted or a Cohabitation Agreement by lawyers like us can help make respective interests in the property clear from the outset.

To speak to us about anything covered here, contact us at 01264 353411 or at

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