Can my boyfriend have a legal claim on my house if we have no rental agreement in place?

The mortgage and title are all in my name, as well as all utilities and property taxes. However, he does write me a check every month for half of the mortgage payment and notes it in the memo section. We do not have a rental agreement in place. If we were to break up, would he be able to claim ownership?

Asked on November 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is very unlikely he could claim any ownership interest. Much more likely, even without a written lease, it would be considered that this is effectively his "rent"--he is helping out with expenses (the mortgage) as his payment or consideration for living there. Only if he could show the existence of some agreement whereby he was paying part of the mortgage specifically in order to acquire some interest in the home would he likely be able to claim such.

That does not mean, by the way, that he may not attempt to claim this, or even bring a lawsuit--it's just that without some agreement that he was "buying" an interest in the house with his payments, it is unlikely that he could establish one or prevail.


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