Can You Own a Home Jointly if Unmarried?

In Virginia, you may own a home jointly with another person as spouses or as unmarried tenants. At common law, two unmarried individuals can own property jointly as tenants in common or as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. If you own property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, you have a right to own the entire share once one joint tenant dies. If you own property as tenants in common, your property passes to your heirs by will or according to your state’s intestacy laws.

In other words, the surviving joint tenant in common does not have a right to own your share upon your death, and your share passes through probate. However, with a joint tenancy, your share automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant. Married joint tenants are known as “tenants by the entirety” in Virginia. Tenants by the entirety have an automatic right to survivorship, and your joint tenancy may automatically become a tenancy by the entirety if you subsequently marry. The American Bar Association’s real property primer provides a lot of useful information. Click here to access it.

Under Virginia law, you can own your home jointly with another unmarried cohabitant by written deed. If you borrow money from a bank to finance your home, your lender may not allow you to own your home jointly with an unmarried co-owner unless she also signed loan papers or a residential uniform loan application as a co-borrower. You will need to obtain consent from your lender to put your girlfriend, boyfriend, friend or anyone else on title if that person did not go through underwriting with you. If you are an all-cash buyer, and you do not need to finance your home through a bank, you can simply request that a settlement attorney or real estate lawyer draft a deed for you naming you either as co-tenants or as joint owners.

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