Couples in Florida may decide that they are ready for homebuying even if they aren't yet ready for marriage. For these couples, buying a home often requires taking a few precautions to protect the investment and interests of each partner.
When married people own property, either jointly or singularly, the law provides some protections for each party in case the couple divorces or one spouse dies. These protections are not in place for unmarried couples, so it is essential for both parties to have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities when purchasing a home.
In some cases, one partner may choose to buy a home on his or her own and allow the other partner to move in. This is a legally and financially straightforward option for the homeowner, and the partner likewise is unencumbered with any obligations to maintain the home or pay the mortgage.
This arrangement can have some difficulties with a partner who does not own the property, however. For example, if he or she has contributed money or labor to house payments or maintenance, he or she may not be entitled to compensation if the relationship ends.
Other options include becoming tenants in common, in which each partner owns a percentage of the home although these shares are not equal, as well as joint tenancy, in which homeownership is split 50-50. Both options have their risks and benefits, particularly if the couple breaks up.
Unmarried couples who are considering buying a home may benefit from speaking with an experienced residential real estate attorney. The lawyer may be able to explain the couple's options and help develop an agreement that protects the interest of both parties.