Comprehensive guide to mortgages for unmarried couples

Navigating the property market as an unmarried couple can be as exciting as it is daunting. The prospect of buying a home together is a significant step, symbolising a shared future. 

However, without the legal framework that marriage provides, it’s crucial to understand the implications and arrangements needed to secure both parties’ interests when entering into a mortgage together. 

This guide aims to shed light on the key aspects unmarried couples need to consider, offering guidance to ensure a solid foundation for their joint homeownership journey.

Are there any risks for unmarried couples getting a mortgage together?

Entering into a mortgage as an unmarried couple carries unique risks, primarily because the law does not automatically recognise both parties’ financial interests in the same way it does for married couples. 

In the event of a breakup or one partner’s passing, resolving ownership and financial contributions can become complex. Without proper legal documentation, one partner may find themselves in a difficult position, potentially losing their home or investments made towards the property. 

It’s essential to approach joint homeownership with a clear understanding of each person’s rights and responsibilities and to take steps to mitigate these risks through legal agreements and careful planning.

Understanding joint tenancy vs. tenancy in common

One of the first decisions unmarried couples face when buying a home together is whether to opt for a joint tenancy or a tenancy in common arrangement.

Joint tenancy is where both parties own the property equally, with a right of survivorship. This means if one partner dies, the other automatically inherits the deceased partner’s share of the property, irrespective of any will.

Tenancy in common allows each partner to own a specified share of the property, which can be unequal. This share can be left to someone else under a will, meaning it doesn’t automatically pass to the surviving partner upon death.

Understanding the differences and implications of each option is crucial in aligning the ownership arrangement with your future plans and financial goals.

Steps to take for financial security

To safeguard both partners’ interests and ensure financial security, there are several steps unmarried couples should consider:

Declaration of trust

A declaration of trust is a legal document that outlines each partner’s financial contribution and share in the property. It’s an essential tool for clarifying ownership proportions, especially in a tenancy in common arrangement, and can detail how proceeds will be divided if the property is sold.

Consider how you’ll manage mortgage payments

It’s important to agree on how mortgage payments, maintenance costs, and other household expenses will be split. Setting up a joint bank account solely for these purposes can simplify management and ensure transparency.

Life insurance

Life insurance can provide financial protection in the event of one partner’s death, ensuring the surviving partner can maintain mortgage payments and retain the property.

Critical illness protection

Similarly, critical illness cover can offer financial support if one partner becomes seriously ill, covering mortgage payments during difficult times.

Income protection

Income protection insurance can help cover mortgage payments and living costs if one partner is unable to work due to illness or injury, providing essential financial stability.

Creating wills

Wills are particularly important for unmarried couples, as they allow each partner to specify how their share of the property should be handled upon their death, especially in a tenancy in common arrangement.

Emergency funds

Establishing an emergency fund can offer a financial cushion for unforeseen events, ensuring mortgage payments and household expenses can be met without strain.

Unmarried couple mortgages FAQs

Let’s explore some common questions that come up with unmarried couple mortgages:

Am I ready to buy a house with my partner?

Consider your relationship stability, financial readiness, and long-term goals. Ensure you’re both committed to the joint responsibility of homeownership before taking the plunge.

Can unmarried couples get a mortgage together?

Yes, unmarried couples can jointly apply for a mortgage. Lenders will assess your combined income, credit history, and ability to repay the loan, similar to married couples.

How do we decide between joint tenancy and tenancy in common?

Your choice depends on how you wish to manage the property’s ownership, both during your relationship and in the event of a breakup or one partner’s death. Consider legal advice to understand the best option for your circumstances.

What happens if we break up?

A declaration of trust or a cohabitation agreement can outline the process for handling the property and financial contributions if you separate. It’s wise to have these agreements in place from the start.

How do we handle the mortgage if one person’s financial situation changes?

Open communication and planning for potential financial challenges are key. You may need to renegotiate your mortgage terms or adjust your financial arrangements to accommodate changes.

What if one partner has a bad credit history?

A partner’s poor credit history can affect your mortgage application. It’s essential to assess your financial standing together and possibly consult a mortgage advisor for guidance on improving your chances of approval.

Should we consult a solicitor?

Yes, consulting a solicitor is advisable to ensure all legal aspects of buying a home together are correctly handled, especially regarding ownership arrangements and protection measures.

How Sett Mortgages can support unmarried couples with mortgages

At Sett Mortgages, we understand the unique challenges and considerations facing unmarried couples in the property market. Our team of experts is here to guide you through the mortgage process, offering tailored advice and solutions that align with your individual circumstances and goals. 

From understanding different ownership arrangements to securing the right mortgage deal and protection measures, we’re committed to supporting you every step of the way towards successful homeownership.

Buying a home together as an unmarried couple is a significant decision that requires careful planning and consideration. By understanding the risks, choosing the right ownership arrangement, and taking steps to protect both parties’ financial interests, you can create a strong foundation for your future together.

With the right preparation and support, navigating the mortgage process as an unmarried couple can be a smooth and secure journey, leading to the joy and stability of owning a home together.

Contact us today to learn more.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.


  • Elliott Benson

    Meet Elliott, a seasoned mortgage broker with over nine years of experience in property, and the founder of Sett Mortgages. With a background as a sales negotiator and mortgage services manager, he is a trusted professional with extensive knowledge in all things mortgages. Elliott's empathetic approach and clear communication style make him an approachable expert, decoding the complexities of mortgages for clients from diverse backgrounds. He stays up-to-date with the latest trends and regulations, offering cutting-edge solutions tailored to clients' needs. Committed to their financial well-being, he guides them through the mortgage process, ensuring countless successful and satisfied clients. Elliott's passion extends beyond his practice; he's a prolific writer, sharing his knowledge and insights in industry publications and blogs. His mission is to empower others with the information they need to make sound financial decisions.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.