Sunday, May 31, 2009

his, mine, ours

(also at EAD)

DJ and I have lived together for just over two years, since before we were engaged. When we were ready to move in together he was ready to buy. I was not. I was sort of adamantly against us owning property together before we were married, although I had no problem with living together unmarried. We’d recently seen friends of ours go through a breakup where there was joint property ownership, and I wouldn’t wish that trial on anyone. There are no laws to protect you if you aren’t married. If your mortgage partner doesn’t pay their share, guess what? You’re liable, and there’s no separation agreement to divide bills (in my state...)

So our condo is in DJ’s name only. Not because I thought we might break up, but because if we did that would be one less horrible thing to handle. We also shopped within “his” price range. If for any reason I weren’t paying the mortgage, he could swing it. If we’d broken up, I could have moved out without him selling or finding a roommate in a hurry. If living together had been awful, we’d have been heartbroken but not homeless. It’s also comforting in this job market that we could get by on one salary if necessary.

We’ve never treated it like “his” place, though. We’ve made improvements together to our home. But - I don’t have a renter’s agreement, which in a really ugly situation could be useful. DJ doesn’t have any legal right to charge me rent, nor do I have any legal right to live in our home. I also have no legal claim to any appreciation or reimbursement for any improvements we’ve made. Those were risks I was willing to take, but writing up a basic agreement for those things probably isn’t a bad idea.


Harriet said...

Mr. Spy and I had exactly the same arrangement (except I was the one who bought the condo) for our first place, and for the same reasons. We actually were engaged before we closed on it, but all the hard stuff was done before our engagement began. But we shopped together. We eliminated condos based on their lack of proximity to a social neighborhood -- one with libraries and coffee shops and places for a writer to hang out. His opinions were crucial, not the least because he works out of the house(and I, at the time, was working elsewhere). Even though the name on the mortgage was mine, it was always our place and I, at least, never thought of it as anything else.

Julia Remix said...

Harriet, I think a lot of people have one name on the mortgage for one reason or another. I remember your story from writing about this elsewhere a while ago. :)

lilac_leaf said...

We shopped for our first house together even though it was just in Mark's name because I could never have afforded it if we'd split up. This house is owned jointly. I still can't afford it, but I'm screwed anyway if we split up :)