Buying a home together

16 September 2008
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If you are unmarried and are buying (or thinking about buying) a home with your partner, you should consider in advance which is the best home ownership option for you. In Ireland, joint ownership of property for unmarried couples can be held in one of two ways:

  • Joint tenancy
  • Tenancy in common

Considering which is the best option for you, means being prepared for what you wish to happen in in the event of the death of either partner, or the breakup of your relationship.

Joint tenancy

This means the whole property is owned by two people with the intention that, when one dies, the other person will automatically own all of the property. In situations where one person has paid for the property, the other person may not get 50% of the proceeds if the house is sold. In situations such as this, you need to check your situation with a solicitor.

Tenancy in common

This means the property is owned in defined shares by two people. For example, 50/50, 75/25, 60/40, etc. Each person can leave their share of the property to whomever they wish. (They may leave their share to their partner for example, but they must make a will stating this fact). If no will is made, the share becomes part of the estate of the deceased partner and the unmarried partner does not have any automatic right to the share. Instead, the family (or even a separated spouse) of the deceased person can claim this share. You can read more about dealing with a deceased person's estate here.

The family home

The Family Home Protection Act 1976 gives a spouse the right to veto any sale or lease of the family home by the other spouse. In order to sell or lease the family home, the written consent of both spouses must first be obtained. This Act does not apply to unmarried couples so if you are living with your partner in his/her house, there is no need for your partner to obtain your written consent before he or she can sell or lease the house