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Buying a Home Together? Do The Title Deeds Reflect Your Contributions?

Waterside flatsLoving couples often contribute together to the cost of buying a home. However, if legal advice is unwisely dispensed with, such arrangements are often not recorded on title deeds and, as one tribunal case showed, that can store up serious trouble for the future.

The case concerned a couple who, despite having been through an Islamic wedding ceremony, were not legally married because the necessary formalities had not been complied with. They had children together and moved into a flat which was later compulsorily purchased by a local authority. The proceeds of the forced sale were put into buying a new home which they occupied until the end of the relationship.

Both the flat and the new home had been registered in the woman’s sole name. However, the man claimed that £10,000 of the flat’s £11,500 purchase price had been provided by his family and that he had paid for renovation works. On that basis, he argued that he was entitled to a beneficial interest in the new home. In resisting his claim, however, the woman insisted that the money used to buy the flat came from her own resources, a dowry provided by her mother and loans received from her family.

In ruling on the dispute, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) noted that it largely came down to one person’s word against another’s in the absence of any documentary evidence to support either of their accounts. After the man’s uncle testified that he had given him £10,000 in cash towards the purchase of the property, the FTT found that the man had an interest in the new home to the extent of his contribution.