Mortgage sharing - moving out - what should I pay?
April 10, 2017 3:03 AM   Subscribe

I currently live with my brother. We share a mortgage on the flat we live in. I have decided to leave the flat and move in with my girlfriend. I intend to keep my share of the flat with my brother, which he is fine with - what should I be paying for?

I currently live with my brother. We share a mortgage on the flat we live in. I have decided to leave the flat and move in with my girlfriend in her flat, which she rents. I'll be paying half of the rent and bills etc at my girlfriends place, but I also intend to keep my share of the flat with my brother, which he is fine with.

Obviously I should keep paying half of the mortgage at the flat, but I'm wondering what other things I should be paying for? It seems to make sense that I should pay my share of the mortgage and home insurance, but that other things such as ground maintenance fees and council tax should be paid by him.

Does anyone have any experience or knowledge on this subject? I want this to go as smoothly as possible, and I don't want to have any arguments with my brother, so any advice would be much appreciated. I live in the UK.

posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can't you rent out "your half" of the flat? Then someone else is paying your mortgage and they will share the bills etc. That only works if your brother is fine with a "stranger" flatmate though obviously.
Otherwise, I would say if you want to maintain "ownership" you should be paying half the ground rent as that's part and parcel of owning the flat and a flat rate regardless of the number of occupants. Council tax - bro will only get, IIRC, 25% discount for being a single occupier, so he'll have to pay more than he did before. Might be fair to pay the extra 25% of council tax so he's only paying the same as before.
I wouldn't pay half of the utilities, personally. Maybe the increased costs would encourage your brother to get a flatmate though - that would be best for you I think, it seems silly to pay for a flat you're not living in.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:14 AM on April 10, 2017

Imagine you and your brother are your brother's landlords (because you are). What do landlords generally pay for where you live? What would a fair market rent be for the flat?

You are only getting the *investment* value from the flat, not the actual useful value of having a place to live, while your brother is getting both the investment value and the benefit of being able to live there.

If you want to be really fair and businesslike about it (which I recommend if at all possible) you should figure out a fair market rent for the flat. You divide the "landlord-ish" expenses between you, and you divide the "rent" between you as well. This will probably result in significantly increased expenses for your brother, though, and him feeling like he is paying the whole mortgage (because he would be) and might not be what he had in mind.

Are you planning to keep your half of the flat as a pied-a-terre or storage kind of situation where you can use it when you want? If you have your own bedroom is your brother free to rent out the other room (or turn it into a sewing room or home gym or whatever)? Is your brother going to be responsible for all bill-paying, maintenance, etc. on the flat now? These are all also things to consider.

Be careful of agreeing to things now that you will feel resentful about later, or that will put you in a bad financial position. My great-aunt actually lived in an house that belonged to her and my grandfather for many years, they were extremely casual about it, and eventually it became a really unpleasant situation (she lived there rent-free for many years, and also rented out the second apartment in the house at well below market rates to her children and grandchildren).
posted by mskyle at 4:27 AM on April 10, 2017 [7 favorites]

It seems to make sense that I should pay my share of the mortgage and home insurance, but that other things such as ground maintenance fees and council tax should be paid by him.

If I were your brother, I'd expect you to pay your share of everything. The council tax doesn't go away any more than the home insurance if you're not living there, correct? If there's a reduction for only having one adult there, all of that savings should go to you, but anything that's a required fee that doesn't adjust for having fewer people there is still half your responsibility.

From his perspective, it's unfair to increase his cost of living while keeping your finger in the pie unless he views living alone as enough of a perk to equalize the additional cost. It it's too much or too irritating for him to want to deal with, he might well decide that he wants to sell the place.

Whatever you do, I recommend writing out the agreement so there's no dispute years down the line on what the terms were, though that still can't prevent one or the other of you from feeling taken advantage of. It would be good to establish what your end-game is here. Are you keeping the space because you want to make sure things work out with your girlfriend? At what point will you want to consider subleasing to someone?
posted by Candleman at 7:11 AM on April 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

"Should" here is really just whatever you and your brother agree to and put into writing.

But my default assumption would be that if you're going to keep your half of the flat, then you continue to be responsible for covering half of all the costs and fees that are required as the cost of having the house, vs. optional. If ground maintenance fees are a basic condition of owning that house, then you should continue to split them evenly. On the other hand, if the option to maintain the place yourselves exists and your brother just prefers to hire grounds maintenance out vs. do the work himself, then that's his call and he can pay for it himself, but maybe you can go in on buying some of the tools, since you're benefitting long-term from not having to pay for professional work. Utilities would be all his, I would think.

It's probably not the brightest of lines - for example, what about repairs? Is it "you both pay for normal house-aging stuff like a new roof, he pays if he just wants to upgrade something that only benefits him since you're not living there, but you discuss together and decide case-by-case how to handle something major that improves resale value?" You probably can't pin all the variables down now, but I'd try to figure out at least the broad outlines of that sort of thing.

That all assumes that by "keep" you mean you keep part of the space as well, use it as storage, maybe keep a bedroom there, whatever. If you're completely vacating the place and your brother gets to take it over entirely, rent out a room if he wants to, etc., then it may make more sense to think of yourself as a landlord as noted above, and figure you pay for the sorts of things a landlord pays for.
posted by Stacey at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and, as a thought experiment: imagine if the mortgage were completely paid off, and you both owned half the flat free and clear, with him living there and you living elsewhere.
- What would you expect him to pay for?
- What would you expect to pay for?
posted by mskyle at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2017

Half of whatever it costs to keep the house, minus utilities, unless those are utilities (like internet etc.) that you are contracted into, and you entered into those contracts with your brother.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:16 PM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

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