In a weekly column for the Star, solicitor Juliet PhillipsJames casts her expert eye over a range of legal matters and urges anyone with any questions or problems to come forward for help.
I have been with my girlfriend for six months and we have decided to move in together. I already own a house so she is moving in with me. I have a considerable amount of equity in the property and my parents are concerned that she could have a claim on the property.
I genuinely think she would not do that but my parents have told me to get legal advice to see if there are any measures I can put in place to prevent her from having a claim.
It is a bit of an awkward conversation to raise with my girlfriend so I would be grateful for any advice you can give before I broach the subject. Is there any possibility she could have a claim on my property?
This is a tricky issue to raise with your girlfriend but there are measures that can be put in place to record the understanding of both parties in respect of the property.
This is known as a cohabitation agreement. Notwithstanding this agreement if your girlfriend makes a significant financial contribution to the house, whether it be by way of mortgage payments or improvements she could have a claim under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.
Under this legislation she could apply for the sale of the property (notwithstanding she is not registered as an owner) on the basis she has accumulated an equitable interest.
I think at this juncture it may be wise to seek the advice of a solicitor dealing in trusts and cohabitation disputes to map out the best way of protecting your equity.
Find more legal advice from Juliet Phillips-James at... www.walesonline.co.uk