Splitting up with partner? Who must pay the mortgage?

Splitting up with partner; who must pay the mortgage? Couples who no longer wish to live together unfortunately can't duck this question when they've previously committed to buying a property together. The most important rule is that regardless of how you own your property, anyone on the mortgage is jointly and severally liable to repay it.

What if we have a deed of trust?

A deed of trust sets out the intentions of joint owners and is most commonly put in place when you purchased the property as tenants in common. Within the deed, along with other things, you agree how much each party pays towards the mortgage. Regardless of what is agreed, all parties on the mortgage must ensure the mortgage is repaid each month in full.

If you are splitting with a partner and have been paying the mortgage, but aren't registered as an owner then you should read this - Splitting up with partner? Are you owed money from the sale of your house?

Keeping up repayments of your mortgage is very important so read on to find out:

We can help you

If your relationship has broken down then we can help with:

  • Deeds of Trust to confirm your current beneficial ownership of the property and protect your interests.
  • Mediation services to support an amicable agreement for the payment of the mortgage.

Help and support when you need it the most.

Fixed Fee, No Sale No Fee and Unbeatable Value Solicitors.


What happens if you stop paying the mortgage?

If you stop paying your mortgage in full then your home could be repossessed. The other implications are that your credit score could be negatively effected that will have an impact on any future mortgage application, mobile phone contract or loan approval.

Do I have to pay the mortgage if I move out?

It is common for one person to move out if the relationship breaks down, however should the person leaving have to pay for the mortgage and rent on a new home. If one party does move out, then they still have an obligation to keep up mortgage repayments.

Who is liable to pay mortgage?

How you split the mortgage is of no concern to your mortgage lender. What is most important is that if you have a joint mortgage you are jointly and severally liable with your partner to pay the mortgage repayments regardless of whether you live in the property or not. This means that you both must continue paying the mortgage after separation in full. All too often one person leaves and expects the other person to pay, however if they can't afford to or stop, then you are both liable, the property could be repossessed and your credit rating could be seriously negatively affected.

Splitting the mortgage when you move out will mean you need to come to an arrangement whereby one person pays the mortgage whilst the other moves out. Whether you split it 50:50, 80:20 or even payable just by one person, you need to document the arrangement in writing; this is especially required as the person still paying the mortgage repayments may grow a larger ownership share in the property.

What is most important when you split from partner with a mortgage is that the full mortgage repayments are made each month; even if you agree how to split the mortgage. Don't be caught out paying your share and your partner not paying theirs. To protect against this you should have at least one month's mortgage repayment saved in the account to cover in the event or either of you not paying your share of the mortgage.

Mortgage Repossession

What happens if one person has been paying more of the mortgage repayments?

How you split the mortgage when you own the property with your partner is your choice. The issues arise when you break up with your partner who you own a property as tenants in common and have been paying more of the mortgage repayments, you have potentially increased your ownership share in the property - and should get paid more of any gain when you sell.

If you have been paying more of the mortgage repayments then call us to ensure you receive an appropriate share of the property when you sell - call 0333 344 3234.

This is a technical area so it is best to look at an example:

Jane & Jim purchased a property for £100,000 as tenants in common. Jane invested £20,000 and Jim invested £30,000 so Jane owns 40% and Jim owns 60% at the outset. The mortgage repayments were £100 per month, however Jane paid £90 of this and Jim paid £10.

After 5 years Jane and Jim break up and decide to sell for £110,000 (an increase of £10,000) and the original mortgage of £50,000 has reduced to £44,000 (£6,000 reduction).

In this example, Jim gets 60% of the £10,000 increase in property value (£6,000), 10% of the £6,000 mortgage repaid (£600) and his original deposit of £30,000; so £36,600 in total. Jane on the other hand gets 40% of the £10,000 increase in property value(£4,000), 90% of the £6,000 mortgage repaid (£5,400) and her original deposit of £20,000; so £29,400 in total.

An issue can arise if Jim argues that he is due 60% of everything regardless of how the mortgage was split and without a written agreement, Jane will face a challenge having to employ solicitors and even potentially going to court.

The way Jane and Jim could have stopped the need to go to court would be to have drafted an agreement at the outset that covered their arrangement showing Jane's greater contribution towards the mortgage repayments.

Is selling the property the only option if you break up?

If your split is final, you have to think in terms of ultimately jointly selling your property or one of you buying the other one out with one of you remaining in the property.

You should open lines of communication with each other as soon as is practicable. As mentioned above, we offer a professional mediation service which can assist you in this.

    Change your property from Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common
In order to be able to put a Deed of Trust in place which takes on board exactly how your property is owned and what each individual's stake and liabilities are, and which are most likely going to be unequal, you need to change the nature of your joint tenure from Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common, if you do not own as Tenants in Common already.

As mentioned, owning as Joint Tenants is rigid in that you can only own your property as 100% jointly and indivisibly. Tenants in Common means that you can own unequally. Your solicitor can do this easily, with agreement from you both, by changing the appropriate wording in your Title Deeds. If you want to examine your Title Deeds, you can contact the Land Registry for them.

    Register a Deed of Trust
As described above, you can agree how you're going to apportion what each person's stake is in the assets and liabilities connected to your jointly held property. Your solicitor then lodges the signed Deed of Trust with the Land Registry.

    Either sell your property or buy one person out of it via a Transfer of Equity

Either, Sell your property

In many ways, if this is practical, it is the cleanest way to move forward. You jointly sell your property and then divide up any assets, or liabilities.

Or, buy your partner out

You would do this when you've agreed that one of you will remain in the property while the other will move out. You instruct a solicitor to carry out the transfer of equity process for you. Normally a transfer of equity involves a consideration being paid to the person moving out/coming off the title.

If you are both still paying off a mortgage, your solicitor needs to get your lender's consent to proceed with the transfer as the remaining party needs to be considered as capable of paying off the remaining mortgage by themselves. Should a third party be coming onto the title, the lender must similarly be consulted and agree to it.

Call 0207 112 5388 to speak to our advisers about getting a Transfer of Equity or click for an online quote

If necessary, the person remaining on the title may have to remortgage the property (click to find out more) to secure the funds to pay the appropriate consideration to the person moving out. Once again, the lender's consent is all-important.

Transfer of Equity? There may be a stamp duty liability

If you're splitting up and are neither married nor in a civil partnership, you may have some stamp duty to pay, depending on the consideration and the remaining mortgage - click to find out more.


Related News Articles

Basic Deed of Trust
Silver Shared Ownership Protection
Splitting up with partner? Are you due money from the property?

Log in to your FREE online Conveyancing Process

Complete your to-do lists, save your progress, watch our videos and follow our tips to lead you through from instructing your solicitor to when you finally move in. Our simple, easy to use process has already helped over 2,857 people move home in 2017 and it is FREE to use.