Money Moral Dilemma: Should my partner pay towards furnishing and decorating my new house?

MSE_Kelvin Posts: 341 MSE Staff
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This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

My partner of four years and I haven't been able to get a mortgage together as he has an individual voluntary arrangement preventing him from getting credit or loans. As a result, I've just bought a house in my name only. Should I be asking my partner to contribute to the cost of furnishing and decorating it? If our relationship were to end, the house and all that's in it would be in my name, but it feels unfair that I pay for everything when he'll be moving in with me and living there full-time.

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  • HotDog2020
    HotDog2020 Posts: 579 Forumite
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    edited 2 April at 6:03PM
    I assume he will be paying toward upkeep and mortgage payments and bills. Do you plan on designing the property content yourself, if so you cannot expect someone else however close you are to pay for it unless they agree with the plan. Everything should be mutual which leads me either of you not have some furniture already you could utilise? Also if you were to break up, the contents would not be yours unless you specifically paid for it, and even then it is up for negotiations dependent on how long your partner lives there and whether or not you marry.
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  • hdknight88
    hdknight88 Posts: 8 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    You're here because you want him to pay for the decoration. The house is in your name.

    Either he pays half for everything except your mortgage or end the relationship.  Really depends on your long term expectation of the relationship. But you may want to speak to a financial adviser.
  • I would suggest, you keep paying the mortgage 100%, and not take any contribution that could be construed as payment towards this. Keep terms like 'rent' out of it. 
    Every other bill, split pretty much 50:50. That's energy, BB, CT, food. 
    That should hopefully keep the 'ownership' of the property completely beyond question - it's yours, 100%.
    Then there's the bills directly to do with the house - insurance, etc. I suggest you cover these, and they should be relatively minor in any case.
    This means that your partner saves a shed load compared to renting on his own, or attempting to buy. Expect him to be mature enough to save the bulk of this, for either your joint future if it all works out, or for him to get back on his feet if it doesn't. If, instead, he squanders his saved living costs so that in the event of the relationship not working out he'd find himself destitute, then take that as an indicator of the calibre of your potential future spouse... 
    That leaves decorating and furniture. 
    'Decorating' will presumably add to the value of your property, so this should essentially be your outlay. If he insists on buying the odd pot of paint, or doing some DIY, then no-one should quibble over this, but it's still your house. 
    Furniture, that's your joint decision. In the event of a break up, then try and divide it as fairly as possible; "you bought that coffee table, so you are welcome to it. You don't want it? Ok, here's £300 for all the bits you bought".
    In the unfortunate event of your relationship not working out, I'd suggest the last thing you'd want is sit down negotiations over the 'split' in terms of anything more complex than some items of furniture. The house should be unquestionably yours. He should have a few good £k saved. Both 'happy' although heartbroken.
    If it works out, then all cool :smile:

    Depends on your intentions. If you were unfortunate to separate and you and your partner intend that your partner won’t have any interest in the property, I agree with the above - no payments that could be considered contributions to the mortgage or value of the house (e.g. ‘rent’, buildings insurance, decorations or refurbs). You benefit from any appreciation in value not your partner, so I would say it is unfair for them to pay towards protecting or improving your investment. Also I believe in a split situation they could claim ‘beneficial interest’ - suggest you check out citizens advice on this, (see ‘if you aren’t named in the title deeds’ for unmarried couples in the ‘what happens if you were living together and separate’ advice). Contributions to monthly expenses such as contents insurance, utilities, and council tax I believe would be fine. Contents such as furniture, appliances etc. aren’t automatically the homeowners - think of renters, their landlords don’t own all contents in the house, only those they supplied if any. So with those items you can agree to either; each buy specific items that you individually own (probably simpler in a spit situation), or share the costs and trust you can negotiate a split of items, or one buys the share of the items off the other, if you separate in the future.

    Of course I hope that’s all academic and you don’t separate, but best if you are both clear on the intentions to avoid difficulties in the future. 
  • Bonnypitlad
    Bonnypitlad Posts: 85 Forumite
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    If he has an IVA he has proven that he is financially irresponsible so ensure he can not make any future claim to your property in the ( probable) event of a break up. 
    That doesn’t mean he lives there free!, he should contribute 50% of food and utilities and pay “ rent “
    Tell him you’re doing him a favour by him learning financial stability!
    If you can get him to regularly contribute the above I wouldn’t insist on him contributing to furnishing and decorating 
    He’s really just a tenant with benefits lol
  • bikaga
    bikaga Posts: 157 Forumite
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    I recommend writing down an agreement and signing it with witnesses for whatever you mean to do.

    Want him to pay rent and bills to help you fund the mortgage? Capture if that entitles him to some part of the property or not.

    Want him to pay for some of the decoration and furnishings? Capture how much he's paid and what he's entitled to if you split up.

    Don't just expect that everything would be in your name - depending on where you are, if you've been living together for a certain amount of time and you're say in Scotland, common law might apply. Even in England, if you were to separate and he can prove that he paid towards the mortgage or furnishings that might entitle him to some of the property ( your partner owns the house you live in, your rights may be quite limited, unless you have a cohabitation agreement in place.
    The default legal position is that you will have no right to a share of the property, unless you can prove that you have ‘acquired an interest’ in the property, often by contributing to the mortgage or home improvements or by showing that there was a shared intention that you would have a share and you have relied on it to your disadvantage).

    So best thing to do is - agree what he is and isn't entitled to and get that captured, with a solicitor, or at least a signed document with witnesses.

    From a personal moral point of view, I would feel guilty about having my partner pay e.g. rent towards my mortgage that he would've joined if he could've and not rewarding this at all, like if he's helping me finance my home then he should have some kind of benefit if we split up. 
  • 04Felix15
    04Felix15 Posts: 6 Forumite
    First Post
    It may feel unfair that your partner isn’t contributing to furniture or decorating but they may also feel like their contributing to furniture or decorating or to a mortgage with no real rights or say in the property as your partner or if you were to break up. 

    To avoid any future problems in your current situation, it’s your property so it’s best if you deal with the majority like mortgage especially. Remember it’s in your name so if things don’t get paid it’s on you. Your partner is playing catch up with their IVA so might not be able to contribute that much otherwise it be a joint mortgage. 

    But hopefully when your partner’s in a better position financially you can revisit having a joint mortgage and purchase a property together in the near future. 
  • 04Felix15
    04Felix15 Posts: 6 Forumite
    First Post
    Have a chat with your partner not about furniture or decorating and see how much they can contribute towards food electric etc so you know where you stand with that first. best  wishes in your new home
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