Laceys Solicitors Laceys is a leading, forward-thinking law firm with specialist experts serving both individual and business clients across a broad spectrum of practice areas.

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Cohabitation and Co-ownership

Whether you are a couple buying a house or flat to live in, family members lending money to assist with a purchase, beneficiaries acquiring a share of property under a will, or business partners buying property as an investment or as premises from which to trade, issues of co-ownership need to be considered.

Although for the majority the purchase of a property is a positive experience, as your professional advisers, we need to plan for when the property is sold or what happens if  circumstances change in the future. For example, relationships break down, people pass away, parties can go bankrupt, or simply change their minds and “want out”.

It is important to consider, and document, the intention and agreement between the parties at the time of the transaction to avoid costly disputes at a later stage.

Where two people own a property jointly, they may agree that when one dies, the survivor should automatically become owner of his or her share. This is known as a right of survivorship and it operates independently of any Will that the deceased person may have made. Alternatively, they may agree that when one dies, his or her share should be inherited by the persons he or she has named in his or her Will. It is for the couple to decide which of these alternatives they want.

Where a couple are married or in a civil partnership, if one dies having failed to make a Will, then there are statutory rules governing the inheritance of their property. These rules benefit the surviving spouse, children and other relatives.

However, where a couple are not married and one dies having failed to make a Will, although the laws in relation to married couples do not apply to cohabitees, they can still make provision for their financial security by entering into Cohabitation Agreements and Declarations of Trust in relation to properties that they either both own or one of them owns, avoiding the risk of complex and often costly legal disputes.

A Cohabitation Agreement is a comprehensive legally binding agreement which covers not only the parties obligations towards one another in sharing the property and its outgoings but also their legal interest in any property they occupy,  the contents of that property, personal belongings, savings and other assets.

The Cohabitation Agreements drafted by us will clearly specify the parties respective interest in the property in which they cohabit whilst they remain cohabitees and their interest in the event that their relationship ceases. The Cohabitation Agreement also assists cohabitees in relation to the day to day financial running of their home, stating what financial contribution each party makes with regard to mortgage repayments as well as utility bills, maintenance and improvements to the property and whether such contributions should in any event alter either party’s interest in the property.

Cohabitation Agreements also stipulate what happens in the event of a relationship breakdown or if one of the parties passes away ensuring that in either event there is a clear pathway to a resolution of the parties finances negating the requirement for costly legal disputes.

Cohabitation Agreements should ideally be accompanied by a Declaration of Trust if the property is owned by either party, to the agreement or both parties. A Declaration of Trust will set out each party’s entitlement to the equity in the property when it is sold and can also set out other rights, obligations and agreements between the parties in order to avoid uncertainty or dispute at a later date. Further both parties should ensure that they update their Wills to make reference to the provisions made in the Cohabitation Agreement.

Our property and / or family department will be able to advise you as to the points to consider and the appropriate form of documentation to evidence the intention of the parties. We also have a dedicated private client department who specialise in tax and estate planning who can also be called upon to provide advice upon trusts and co-ownership where circumstances dictate.

For further advice on any co-ownership matters please contact one of the team today to see how we can help.


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    Meet the Team

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    Mark Preece

    Partner — Commercial and Residential Property

    Direct dial: 01202 377862


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    • “Mark and the team take great care of our commercial property requirements. We have always been delighted with their service.”

      Simon Ward, NSN Propertis Ltd

    • “Quick, responsive service. Prepared to recommend a way forward and not sit on the fence.”

      Guy Eccles

    • “Efficient, competent and friendly.”

      Michael Bond

    • “Straightforward. Everything kept clear and simple.”

      Nicola Maidment

    • “I appreciate the personal service and the feeling that my business is important. I also respond well to a friendly approach.”

      Andrew Taylor

    • “Mark noted the requirements of the sale and worked very hard to achieve an excellent prompt outcome. He phoned me immediately the deal was done!”

      Paul R Barry

    • “Excellent service provided by Mark Preece and his team.”

      Francis & Natalia Erard

    • “Everyone at Lacey's seem to have my best interest at heart and act super efficiently. A pleasure to deal with.”

      John Beauchamp

    Mark qualified as a solicitor in 2008 after gaining an LLB (2003) and LLM (2005) at university’s in Birmingham.  He completed his training contract with the North Dorset and South Wiltshire firm now known as Farnfields LLP and joined Horsey Lightly Fynn (HLF) in Bournemouth in 2011.  He became a partner at HLF in 2014 and at merger of HLF and Laceys became a partner in the merged firm in 2015.

    Mark is a partner working across our Commercial and Residential property teams acting for a wide variety of clients from property developers, property investors, businesses, first time buyers and those needing advice relating to enfranchisement and residential landlord and tenant dealing with all aspects of property work.

    Away from work Mark spends his time with his wife and their three young boys who keep them very busy.

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    John Munro

    Partner — Commercial and Residential Property

    Direct dial: 01202 377839


    John Munro, head of Property, Laceys Solicitors
    • “John Munro was friendly and very approachable, advising me with a clear depth of knowledge and experience. I have since recommended him and will do so if asked in the future.”

      N. Pitts-Crick

    • “Having dealt with Laceys on many a sale and purchase I’ve always found them to be efficient, knowledgeable and attentive. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them to family, friends and clients.”

      Stuart Cockram - Frost and Co

    • “We have always been very happy with the service provided by Laceys Solicitors, in both our business legal requirements and domestic property conveyancing.”

      Mark Edney

    • “You are our solicitor Superhero! Very grateful. ”

      Maria - Tom Frowde Architects

    • “Changing solicitors is not to be undertaken lightly. However really impressed with the way that John Munro and his associates have dealt with us over the last couple of years in a variety of complex property related transactions and on the commercial and personal front as well. We look forward to working with them going forward.”

      Malcolm Tice, Director - Tice & Son Ltd

    John joined Laceys in 2001 on a training contract, having completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Law in 2000, and qualified as a solicitor in 2003. He is now the Head of the Commercial and Residential Property Departments.

    He is also the firm’s Senior Responsible Officer under the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) with overall responsibility for the management of the property team and their delivery of the excellent service that our clients have come to expect.

    John acts in his own capacity for a number of commercial property owners, developers and investors, but also allocates time to ensure his team are up to speed with changing law and professional regulations and clients are provided with members of the team who possess the right skills to deal with their individual requirements, delivering projects in the most time and cost-efficient manner.

    Outside of work John seems to spend a great deal of time ferrying his children around but occasionally gets to put his feet up and listen to his eclectic collection of vinyl. He is also not averse to a good cheeseboard and a glass of IPA.

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