Are you and your partner making the big move together? Here are some quick tips for unmarried couples who will be purchasing a home together!

A header image of a woman hugging a man - house keys are hanging from her fingers in the foreground. Moving boxes lay in the background.

1) Saskatchewan Definition

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Regarding property in Saskatchewan, couples are considered official spouses when they have lived together in the same dwelling for two years, plus one day. This means that the person's name on the title of the property up until the two year (and one day) point is the only person who has any claim to said property. After that point, the two spouses have an equal claim - 50/50.

2) Mortgage Application

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As with any person going to purchase a home, you go to a mortgage broker or your bank to get pre-approved for a mortgage. One person applies for this mortgage. This is important to note for common law couples, since the name of the person who applies for the mortgage is the name that will be on the title for the property. 

3) Cohabitation Agreement

An image of a couple holding moving boxes in the middle of a living room, looking at one another.

Lawyers strongly recommend unmarried couples to have a written cohabitation agreement when moving in together, regardless of who buys it. This agreement is simply meant to protect both parties should any issues pop up before and after that two years and one day have passed. So, this document basically lays out who is entitled to what. It also lays out that entitlement before and after common law takes effect. Finally, it can include which responsibilities each person will have. For example, let's say Hipster Kyle and Goth Girl Vanessa decide to move in together. Vanessa is the one who applied for the mortgage. Their cohabitation agreement outlines these points:

  • Vanessa makes the mortgage payments each month, and pays the water bill
  • Kyle pays for the remaining utilities - electricity, gas, internet
  • If separation occurs before common law takes effect, Kyle can keep all of his gaming consoles, his small kitchen appliances and his vintage alcohol bottle cap collection. Vanessa keeps the furniture, her studio equipment & supplies and her pet chinchilla, Randall.
  • If separation occurs after common law takes effect, Kyle can keep his vintage alcohol bottle cap collection and gaming consoles, but must give Vanessa the air fryer and blender. Vanessa keeps her studio equipment and supplies, but must give Kyle the sectional sofa, and two dressers. Randall the chinchilla has become a beloved pet to both, and so a written schedule needs to be created to outline the times that Kyle will have Randall, and the times that Vanessa will have Randall. 

4) Split Scenarios

An image of a couple standing back to back with each other, their arms folded. Their hands visible in the foreground each hold one half of a cartoon heart with jagged edges, symbolizing a broken relationship.

Let's use Hipster Kyle and Goth Girl Vanessa again. This time, though, let's say they didn't have a cohabitation agreement. One year and eight months pass since the day they moved into the home together. Vanessa finds out Kyle has been cheating on her, and they split up. Since Vanessa was the one who applied for the mortgage, her name is the name on the title of the property (as we learned in the second point). The couple is not considered common law since two years and one day has not been reached. This means that legally, Vanessa is entitled to 100% of the property. Even if Kyle helped out with the down payment of the house, Vanessa is still entitled to 100% of the property. 

This time, let's say that Kyle and Vanessa split up 2 years and 3 days after moving in with each other. Since common law took effect, Kyle and Vanessa must split everything equally between the two of them. Without a cohabitation agreement, everything must be split equally, regardless of how much money one person invested in certain things for/inside the property. 

5) Death Scenarios

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A Will is another document recommended to buyers purchasing property. This is simply to outline what happens if one person dies, ideally protecting both parties. Using Hipster Kyle and Vanessa once again, let's say that Kyle's name is on the title of the property this time. Within one year of Kyle and Vanessa living together, let's say Kyle's love for craft beer resulted in a terrible tragedy - so he's gone, and Vanessa is now all alone. With no Will and no cohabitation agreement, the property they lived in now belongs to Kyle's parents. Nothing was agreed upon before this craft beer fiasco, so now Vanessa gets nothing

What happens if that tragedy took place after common law took effect? Vanessa would be considered a spouse according to common law, and would be entitled to the property. 

Overall, when purchasing and moving in together, it's important to plan ahead and protect yourself. It's not shady or deceitful to have these plans while you're living with your partner, it's just smart. All it does is plan for scenarios that MAY happen, protecting you from the negative effects of those situations. Your plans can also protect your partner, such as in the case of death. We hope these tips help!

Posted by Admin Staff on


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