The Boyfriend Mortgage Contribution

by UrbanTurf Staff

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In this installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a homeowner who recently had her boyfriend move in inquires as to whether there is a protocol for the boyfriend helping with mortgage payments.

Several weeks ago, my boyfriend moved into the condo that I have owned for a few years on Capitol Hill. We have yet to work out a payment plan, but I was thinking that 40-50 percent of the current $2,200 a month mortgage would be suitable. Frankly, $1,100 a month is far less than what he paid at his previous place, so I think it is a fair solution. If UrbanTurf readers have had experience with this situation, I would be curious to know how things were worked out and if my proposed payment plan is reasonable.

Post your experiences/thoughts in the comments section. This same question was asked of UrbanTurf readers about three years ago. Here are some of the responses:

“My girlfriend moved in with me off of Logan Circle in April. I basically maintained her old Dupont Circle rent of $1,100 flat. That ends up being only about 1/4 of the household expenses, but it seemed like carrying over her old rent was the most equitable thing to do until I put a ring on it.”

I’ve lived with my boyfriend—recently husband—for over 4 years and in my old condo, he paid just a portion of the mortgage that I thought he could afford (His income was about 70% of mine).  When we sold, I calculated his share of the cash out as a factor of how much money he put in compared to how much I put in—it was very fair. 

I’ve thought about how to deal with this if I asked my girlfriend to move in and the most equitable solution that I’ve come up with so far is that she should end up paying less than she paid in rent for her previous place plus her contribution should also be less than she would pay to split the rent if we were renting (my place was rented before I bought so I have a clear sense of what its worth). That way she’s getting a clear financial deal both over her prior costs and over what she would be otherwise paying. If she has those savings, then, in my opinion, the equity issue is moot.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_boyfriend_mortgage_contribution/8088

23 Comments

  1. ap said at 12:08 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Agree with the poster above re income limit. My GF pays an half of the mortgage and utilities adjusted down for her roughly 10% income disparity. I cover major repairs etc as well. While she’s not necessarily gaining the benefit of equity directly, she’s also not exposed to maintenance and repair projects - and its only marginally more than she paid in a group renting situation.

  1. Amy said at 12:09 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    I was in this situation when my boyfriend moved in about two years ago. We ended up deciding to split the payments, and are on the path to marriage, so eventually it will all be moot.

    That said, I think it is important to take into account the income difference as in my mind, the girlfriend/boyfriend contribution should be proportional to their annual income.

  1. it works said at 12:20 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    I moved into my boyfriends place.  We both wrote down what we thought my contribution should be on pieces of paper than showed it to one another. Turns out he expected me to pay less, and I expected to pay more.  We met in the middle and both felt like we got a more than fair deal.

  1. Jon said at 12:20 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Might be a good test of the relationship to sit down and work it out. Money is one of the big causes of relationship issues, and you want to be sure you and your partner can get on the same page before you raise your commitment level.

    That said, when my girlfriend (now wife) moved in with me, we split 50/50 (or close to it), but it was easier because while she made more money, I was the one who bought the condo.

  1. David said at 12:28 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    I agree with Amy. While the person moving in should have to pay something, it should be split up proportionally based on annual income.

    If one of you makes $150K a year and the other makes $50K, the payments should vary.

  1. Taxes said at 1:01 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Remember that if the person moving in starts paying half of the mortgage, then the owner of the house may no longer deduct the mortgage interest on that half of the loan.

    Whether the person moving in can deduct that mortgage interest is less clear as regulations only require that person to be an “equitable owner”, not necessarily on the loan or title (http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/26/1.163-1)

    Of course there’s little chance this will get caught, but it’s nonetheless the law and it’s up to the individuals to decide if they feel comfortable ignoring the law.

  1. Kes said at 1:38 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    I purchased a house a few years ago with my own money, but largely because my boyfriend planned to move in with me. I might have bought the same house & found a roommate, but probably not.

    We decided from the start that he’d pay half the mortgage, even tho at the time he earned less than me. However, I covered almost all the other bills, groceries, repairs, and other expenses. After he got a better job, he began contributing more to those costs.

    I handled the financial side of things, paying all the bills and credit cards, but I always appraise him of where we are financially and what future plans are, with his input. We will be married this spring, so again, any worries about fair expense distribution will become largely moot.

  1. Justin S said at 2:28 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    I went through this as the owner. When my (now fiance) moved in, I didn’t want either of us to feel cheated. It was hard because I “got lucky” and bought a place at the bottom of the housing collapse. Since the “fair market rent” for her share would have been close to the entire cost of my mortgage, I didn’t feel right giving her a slight discount and calling it good.

    In the end, she contributed about 1/2 what she’d pay as a regular renter… which was an amount that was still large enough to matter to my fiances while being clearly advantageous to her.  If we’d split up, I wouldn’t have wanted either of us to feel like we’d wasted money (or potential money).

  1. Justin S said at 2:33 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Also a consideration:

    I didn’t want to create a situation where either of us could potentially feel like we would break up with each other, except one or both of us couldn’t let go of the sweet rent/rental income.

    I’m not sure I would have gone down that road if I felt like either of us would become financially dependant on each other pre-marriage.

  1. Tom said at 2:42 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    @Justin S,

    I am confused by your most recent comment. Do you mind clarifying? It seems like a good point.

    I am on the verge of buying and will be having my girlfriend move in with me, so this is very relevant to me right now.

  1. Katy said at 2:43 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    I’d be interested to hear from those who have tried this situation and had the relationship end (obviously it’s a big commitment to live together and split mortgage payments but things happen).

  1. mona said at 2:58 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Bad, Bad, Bad idea. You should have a written roommate agreement that spells out the finances on all ends. Remember if you break up and that person can lay claim to your home. Saw a friend at IBM do this. Bought a house, put her name on deed but not mortgage. She decided to break up about a year later and forced the sale of the house so she could have 1/2 of the proceeds of the sale. Get an agreement in writing up front. If you buy a house and they didn’t contribute to the down payment, that is your house and you are basically renting to them. Relationships go bad and people get angry and with the way home values increase in some areas of the city, they could get greedy too.

  1. Chet Wetworth said at 3:18 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Mona, correct…the boy moving in with the girl or vice-versa is simply a renter. They did not get the mortgage or put a down payment when the property was purchased. The person moving in with the homeowner should be paying market rent (or close to it) while the original owner continues to pay taxes and insurance. With a lease or other agreement, they receive no interest in the property. Why should they?!

  1. Zesty said at 3:23 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Personally I don’t think it’s a good idea. People should enjoy not having someone wondering where you are and why you aren’t home yet(guys perspective, I guess). Personally, I wouldn’t move-in with someone unless we’re engaged…I can see partners breaking up and the jilted partner brings over new romantic interests out of spite but now you can’t kick them out cause they have a lease (DC rental laws are protective of tenants). And you’ll have to move after a break-up…doesn’t everyone hate moving? This just seems like one big headache.

  1. Eastern Culture Guy said at 3:40 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    When my girlfriend moved in (at my request), I did not ask her to chip-in for the mortgage.  Instead, she became responsible for the food and tidying-up of the place.  It’s a bit old fashioned way to do it, but she felt like she got to see how it would be to nest with me, and I got to try before I buy in a sense.  We were married a year later.

  1. mona said at 3:59 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Zesty…write it in the agreement that in the event of a dissolution of relationship… Cause in DC even without a lease and your in the place, hard to get you out. Actually it is worst if you don’t have a written agreement.

  1. Ashley said at 4:24 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    I moved in years ago with a boyfriend after he bought.  I paid the same as I had been in a prior apartment, and when a friend moved in my rent went down further.  When we broke up and I moved out I did not get anything from it, but I was fine with it because the rent was less than I would have been paying otherwise. 

    Since then a few years have passed and I bought a place.  Almost a year ago my bf (now fiance) moved in with me.  He pays for the rental of a storage unit and is responsible for more of the day to day expenses (groceries, etc) but I pay all of my mortgage and the electricity and cable.  This is due to not wanting to deal with the tax implications of having a renter and because financially him being able to pay down debt faster was more imporatant to long term financial health.  At this point because we are saving for a wedding he has taken on a lot of that responsibility also.  It isn’t for everyone but I easily covered my mortgage before he moved in so it made sense this way for us.

  1. mona said at 4:47 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    9 times out of 10 boyfriend/girlfriend moving in and paying works out fine. Even if the relationship doesn’t continue. Just don’t be that 1 out of 10 where is doesn’t. Remember…revenge is a dish best served cold and nothing is better than cold hard cash.

  1. DC Homeowner said at 8:01 am on Thursday February 6, 2014:

    When I had l girlfriend move in, I only asked that we split all costs that weren’t paying directly towards equity.  Because my mortgage was far below market rent this seemed very fair, but might not be the best in all situations.  It’s a tricky situation - the homeowner is taking all the risk, so it’s not cut and dry. Also, if your costs are higher or lower than renting, how is it fair to transfer that benefit or burden to a partner?  Just because one of you might have more money saved or a bigger paycheck doesn’t entitle a gf/bf to that money…  I think half of market rent for the place plus half the bills is closer to fair with all things considered.  Too bad that fact seems to upset people.

  1. Seth from Montgomery County said at 8:17 am on Thursday February 6, 2014:

    The comments are surprising. If you love somebody, then you will let them live for free. I have done this twice. The relationships ended for other reasons. Furthermore if they love you, then they will pay for what they think they should(ex. maybe they pay for gas, food, restaurants, bar tabs, vacations, etc.). From the moment you enter into a relationship, you should act like a team, her bills are your bills, his problems are your problems, your ambitions should be bolstered by your other and vice-versa, etc. Marriage is merely a formality. Love seems to be slipping away from society and it’s sad. These transactional relationships/marriages that seem to be taking hold are bad for your future children and bad for the cohesion of society.

  1. DC225 said at 9:19 am on Thursday February 6, 2014:

    My boyfriend moved into my apartment during the first phase of our relationship before we broke up (we later got back together).  I made about 40% more than him, and he had a lot of debt, so instead of asking for a household contribution, I told him that I wanted him to pay down his debt and start saving money.  Bad idea.  Irresponsibility was why he was in debt in the first place, and having more money each month with no housing responsibility just encouraged him to be more and more irresponsible with his money, and each month I grew more and more bitter that I was paying all the household bills while he was out having fun.  We eventually broke up (for other reasons) but worked things out.  When we got back together and talked about him moving in again, I finally decided to be assertive and said that I thought it was fair that he paid half of the mortgage each month (which was still far less than he was paying in rent before he moved back in).  He was in agreement, so that’s what we did.  Not only do I now feel like we’re equal partners in contributing to the maintenance of our home, but he also has become more responsible with his money, because he now has to budget, make sure he has his half of the mortgage each month.  All in all he’s making better financial decisions and we both feel like we’re in an equitable living situation.  Win-win.

  1. Kes said at 11:23 am on Thursday February 6, 2014:

    @Seth, letting an SO live with you for free might be great, but I wouldn’t know because “love” can’t pay the mortgage, and neither can I without help. And yes, all relationships are transactional on some level, even if its just “I give you love and I get love back.” If I don’t get any love back, that’s the end of the relationship, much like if I don’t get help paying the mortgage, that’s the end of the mortgage, one way or another. One thing I *know* is bad for children is being evicted.

  1. Zesty said at 12:49 pm on Thursday February 6, 2014:

    @Seth, First, please define “love” (it’s an overused and misunderstood term, IMHO). Second, please reference these famous lyrics by the Supremes with special emphasis on the line “love can’t pay my bill”...

    “The best things in life are free
    But you can give them to the birds and bees
    I need money
    That’s what I want
    That’s what I want, yeah
    That’s what I want
    Your love gives me a thrill
    But your love can’t pay my bill
    I need money…”

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