In the ever-evolving landscape of relationships, more couples are opting to buy a home before tying the knot. This shift is particularly pronounced in Canada, where 23% of couples cohabitating are unmarried, according to 2021 national census data. However, before embarking on this significant journey, common-law partners should be well-informed about the legal, financial, and relationship implications of joint homeownership. In this blog, we’ll explore the top considerations and provide insights to help you make informed decisions.

  1. Know the Laws in Your Province or Territory

Before taking the plunge into homeownership, it’s crucial to understand the legal intricacies that vary across provinces and territories. In Ontario, for instance, common-law status is achieved after three years of cohabitation or with the presence of a child. However, common-law relationships may not be recognized for property divisions, necessitating a cohabitation agreement for protection.

  1. Get a Cohabitation Agreement

Common-law couples lack automatic property rights, making a cohabitation agreement essential. This legal document outlines ownership details, percentage shares, payment responsibilities, buyout agreements, dispute processes, and exit strategies. While discussing it may not be the most romantic, a cohabitation agreement safeguards both partners’ interests and provides peace of mind.

  1. Decide on Mortgage Structure

Choosing between a singular or joint mortgage application demands careful consideration. Understand the implications on qualification, interest rates, and potential complications. Options like sole ownership, joint tenancy, or tenancy in common should align with your financial capabilities and future plans.

  1. Discuss Financial Responsibilities

Clearly defining how you plan to financially manage mortgage payments, bills, and other expenses is crucial. Open discussions about income disparities and contribution expectations will prevent future conflicts. Early transparency on financial matters can save you from headaches as you navigate the challenges of joint homeownership.

  1. Have a Break-Up Plan

No one likes to dwell on worst-case scenarios, but having a plan in case of a breakup is vital. Whether it involves a buyout, selling the property, or a detailed exit strategy in your cohabitation agreement, addressing potential challenges upfront ensures a smoother process if the relationship takes an unexpected turn.

Pros and Cons of Home-Buying Before Marriage


Financial Independence and Equity Building: Couples can invest in property and build equity together, fostering financial independence.

  • Flexibility in Property Choice: Unmarried couples have the freedom to choose a property based on their current needs without worrying about accommodating future family plans.
  • Potential for Financial Growth: Real estate can be a solid investment, offering the potential for significant financial growth if the property appreciates in value.


  • Complex Legal and Financial Implications: Unmarried couples face unique legal and financial challenges, including the absence of clear frameworks for asset division.
  • Mortgage and Tax Complications: Joint mortgages may lead to complications, impacting interest rates and tax benefits that married couples enjoy.
  • Risk of Unequal Equity: Unequal distribution of equity may occur if only one partner’s name is on the mortgage or property deed, potentially leading to financial disparities and conflicts.

Navigating Tax Implications When Unmarried

Mortgage Interest Deduction:

  1. Itemized Deductions: Unmarried couples can deduct mortgage interest on taxes by itemizing deductions, considering each partner’s contribution.
  2. Division of Deductions: Proportional division of deductions based on contributions is crucial, with a clear statement attached to the tax return.

Other Considerations:

  1. Joint Ownership and Taxes: Simplify tax filings by having both names on the title, demonstrating joint financial interest.
  2. Potential for Complex Situations: Seek professional advice for intricate tax scenarios, especially when there’s a significant difference in assets or debts.

In conclusion, buying a home with your common-law partner is an exciting venture, but it requires careful consideration and planning. While it provides financial benefits and independence, the lack of legal frameworks demands proactive measures. Whether it’s understanding provincial laws, drafting a comprehensive cohabitation agreement, or navigating tax implications, informed decisions are key to a successful joint homeownership journey. In the 21st century, not everyone opts for marriage, and if you’re among those buying a home before marriage, taking necessary precautions is paramount to safeguard your interests.