22 July 2019
Living together? 5 tips for a first experience in cohabitation
Cohabiting is a great human adventure… but it’s more than that. Quite a few practical aspects need to be taken into consideration as well. A brief guide...
1. What kind of cohabitee do you want to be?
To begin with, it’s important to decide what kind of cohabitant “status” you want to choose. In addition to marriage, there are two other forms of cohabitation: non-formalized and legal.
- When you are in a non-formalised cohabitation, you live under the same roof. That’s all. This form of cohabitation is not linked to any other right or obligations. It also does not require any official document.
- Things are quite different in the case of a legal cohabitation. This form of cohabitation is, in theory, open to anyone, even to persons without any (romantic) ties. You can, for example, cohabit legally with a family member or a friend. Would you like to cohabit legally? In that case you need to go to the town hall and sign a document. In that case you will be subject to the separation of property rule. This rule means that the two partners retain full financial independence.
2. Renting or buying?
You will also need to decide whether to rent or buy.
It goes without saying that buying a house is an important decision. It entails many additional costs such as registration fees and notary fees. Bear these in mind when calculating your available budget.
Most couples begin by renting a home to see how the things work out. If this strikes you as the ideal option, start saving a bit of money for the security deposit and for furnishing your new home.
Already married or legal cohabitants? If so, both partners are considered tenants of the property. Both have the same rights and obligations, even if only one of them has signed the lease.
If you are in a non-formalised cohabitation, the person who signed the lease is the one responsible. From a legal point of view, that person bears all the relevant rights and obligations.
3. Who does what?
It is important to have solid agreements between you. This is just as true of partners who are moving in together. Be sure to divide up between you, in advance, the responsibilities for the various tasks, as well as their frequency. Discuss ahead of time how you want to decorate your home. This will prevent arguments later and each of you will feel more at home.
4. Who pays for what?
Once you have settled the practical matters, it is also important to make financial arrangements. Do you want to have a joint account or not? Read our advice here.
5. Do you need to insure your property?
Whether you decide to rent or buy, it is essential to protect your home.
As a tenant, you are required to return the property in its original condition at the end of the rental period. This is known as the tenant’s liability. In other words, you (or your insurance) and not the landlord or his/her insurance will have to pay for damages to the rental property after a fire or water leak, for example.
As a home owner, if you finance your purchase with a mortgage loan, your bank will require you to take out home insurance. If you buy your home entirely with your own funds, then there is no obligation to take out such an insurance policy. But you should always carefully assess the risks. Without insurance, you will have to pay out of your pocket for any damage caused to your home and potentially to its contents!
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