UrbanTurf Reader Asks: The Girlfriend Mortgage Contribution

by UrbanTurf Staff


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

I am curious if UrbanTurf readers have any experience with the following scenario: My girlfriend recently moved into the condo that I bought about a year ago. Right now, we have a fairly creative payment plan worked out in which I pay the mortgage, condo fees, etc., and she buys most of the daily necessities. But I am curious if there are better solutions out there. Needless to say, this is delicate territory, but if anyone has experience with this situation, I would love to hear how payment (if any) was determined.

Post about your experiences in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_the_girlfriend_mortgage_contribution/2682


  1. Jessica said at 11:42 am on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    My boyfriend and I have lived in a condo I bought about two years ago. The arrangement that we have worked out is that he pays a portion of the mortgage, but well below what he would be paying in rent for where we live. He also takes me out to dinner once a week…

  1. Rob said at 11:53 am on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    I’ve heard of arrangements where each party contributes their percentage of household income to bills.  If one makes 60k and the other makes 40k and bills are $2000 a month, they are split $1200 and $800.

    Split evenly would cause financial hardship on the lesser earning person.

  1. AB said at 12:08 pm on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    I think it’s fair for her to pay some portion of the mortgage.  If you had moved in to an apartment together (that neither of you owned), you likely would have split the rent.  It doesn’t make sense that just because you own the condo, she should live rent free.  Obviously, her payments are helping build your assets, but that’s a chance she takes by moving in.  I bought a house a few years ago on my own (made the down payment and paid all closing costs), but my bf at the time moved in, and we split the mortgage 50/50.  We are engaged now, and that was always the hope, but he was essentially taking a chance that if things didn’t work out, I’d end up with all of the equity.  As to whether you split things 50/50 or some other way, that probably would depend on the size of your mortgage and both of your incomes.

  1. QStreet said at 12:17 pm on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    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.

    Alternatively, you can tell her that there is a correlation between her rent contribution and the size of her engagement ring, and see where things land. “It’s just economics baby”.

  1. SL said at 12:26 pm on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    My husband and I moved in together before we got married and while we both maintained separated checking accounts we also opened a joint one just for household expenses and moved the mortgage payment and bills to the joint account. We each contributed enough to cover our shared housing expenses and groceries (in our case equal amounts but you could also split based on income). I like doing it this way because we were both sending $ to this account instead of having one of us paying rent to the other.

  1. BF said at 12:28 pm on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    My girlfriend and I both own units in the same building (we both have mortgages, her payments are about 35% less than mine). Basically, she lives with me and has her furniture and some clothes in her apartment.

    I couldn’t ask her to contribute to my mortgage/fees knowing that she has her own to pay for.

    Recently she began renting her apartment on short-term rentals. We’re splitting all income generated by the rentals. Its been fair so far.

  1. Janson said at 12:57 pm on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    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.

    One last thing: it’s not just the mortgage payment that should be discussed - it’s the total cost of ownership including maintenance, property tax, condo fee, and utilities.

  1. JT said at 1:06 pm on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    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. 

    Now we are renting with a 50/50 split on rent and expenses.  We are looking to buy again and I offered a 60/40 split on our future mortgage but he said “no way”—we are 50/50 from now on.  Even though it is harder on his budget, he knows what he is getting into and how monetary decisions are going to be made equally. 

    Equal share on decisions means equal share of the cost.

  1. Mony said at 3:28 pm on Wednesday November 17, 2010:

    I bought a place 3 months ago and my girlfriend moved in with me when I moved in. I pay for the entire mortgage, condo fee and utilities.  She pays for all the groceries and then cuts me a check each month so that it totals a figure that she came up with based on her income that she’s comfortable paying with.

    I haven’t even considered the whole equity thing, I have considered the fact that I’m getting a mortgage deduction though to make sure she’s not contributing over 50%

  1. cbjackson said at 10:52 am on Thursday November 18, 2010:

    Lots of opinions! Love this site, love the input.

    Here is our story:

    Second marriage for both
    Dated 2.5 yrs before marriage
    Lived together 2 yrs

    I paid mortgage principle, interest & taxes @ $1600 / mo

    He gave up his place and paid HOA (250); Utilities (100); Cell Phones (200), Car, Homeowners and Liability Insurances (350), Groceries (500) & Dry Cleaning (200).

    Not bad when you consider +/-100 per cell account, multiple insurances, +/- 125 per week for groceries, and +/- 50 per week for dry cleaning.

    Debts were our own until we married. At that point, we became one in all aspects.

    We are on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University plan since we married a year ago, we’ve paid down $24,000 of our debt.

    Word to wise - TALK ABOUT EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR FINANCIAL BAGGAGE - Its not important to choose a mate with a good credit score, its important to chose one who has a plan for their debt and is actively working on the plan. Frosting on the cake if you share similar ideas about how to handle money and can express your needs, ideas and wants.

  1. Adams Morgan said at 12:28 pm on Thursday November 18, 2010:

    My boyfriend moved in with me and we agreed that he would contribute $850/month toward the house expenses for my townhouse.  I pay the mortgage, taxes, utilities, cable, phone, groceries.  He pays his cell phone and buys wine sometimes.  This works out that I pay 2/3 and he pays 1/3 since the equity in the house is mine.

  1. Mary said at 4:23 pm on Thursday November 18, 2010:

    I agree with @Janson i don’t think building equity is as big an issue.  If you’re worried that it’s not fair that your bf/gf is building equity off of your money you probably aren’t serious enough to be living together.

    In my opinion you take mortgage+condo fees+ property tax and you split that in half.  Assuming only the owner put down the downpayment then the amount going towards equity from the rent the other person pays is so small that it would take years for them to ‘catch up’ to the initial amount that was put in.

    Is half the cost (mortgage+condo fees+property tax) a fair amount for rent is another question.  I think if the half of the costs is less than what the rent would usually be, then great they get a discount.  If it’s more, you gotta make a decision whether to charge them more.  I say probably not.

  1. former Georgetowner said at 5:26 pm on Thursday November 18, 2010:

    If it’s your fiancee, then you should split the housing costs according to your income percentage, assuming that you’ll end up owning the asset jointly in the future.

    If just a girlfriend, then in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter what you charge as long as it’s market rate or just below.  All this b.s. about equity doesn’t really matter.  You shouldn’t feel guilty that her rent payment is building you assets. 

    I would NEVER move in with a boyfriend, but personally, if I did, I would prefer that my rent money built my boyfriend’s wealth and not some other landlord.

    That said I’ve seen a lot of different arrangements.  A good friend of mine lives with her boyfriend and owns her condo.  She pays all of the housing costs, but he pays for pretty much all outings and vacations, and sometimes minor renovations.  For example, they fixed up the bathroom themselves, he paid for the materials.  He also paid for the extra bedroom furniture they needed for her clothes.

  1. Richard James said at 10:53 am on Saturday November 20, 2010:

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, unless of course you enjoying having your chops busted.

  1. aj said at 5:53 pm on Monday November 22, 2010:

    I bought a place in 2009 and my roommate came with me - she rents a room from me now.  I kept her rent the same $1100 that she was paying in the old place and I pay the remainder of the mortgage and condo fee ($1650).  I see no problem with her helping me build equity as she would have paid the same amount for rent regardless. when she is worried about building equity she can go buy her own place. as a side note, she pays me rent and her half of utilities via Pay Pal and this is a great way to electronically transfer money if you don’t belong to the same bank. If you don’t “request” payment via PP then no handling fees are deducted, so I just shoot her a quick email when bills are due. I can have the money in my account within 2-3 days.

  1. sharon said at 3:31 am on Thursday June 28, 2012:

    i have an apartment that i pay rent at but am almost never there. i basically live with my boyfriend, who pays the rent at his place. when either or us have friends in town, they stay at my apartment. since i already pay rent at my other place, i don’t think it’s fair to also pay him. i do buy most of the groceries and all of the other household items, toiletries, etc. is this fair? he doesn’t think so…
    p.s. he asked my to move in with him and if i wasn’t paying for my other apartment, i’d be paying him rent. i don’t want to give it up though in case we break up i’d have somewhere to go.

  1. Jem said at 6:36 pm on Wednesday July 18, 2012:

    Sharon, you are describing exactly my situation.  My bf owns his own business but is underwater big time on his apt and Porsche, and his mortgage payments fluctuate wildly.  He’s also been married 3 times while I have never been married, so I feel better keeping my own apt (I rent) just in case.  Now he wants me to pay into the principal on his mortgage.  I offered to pay half utilites and maintenance fees ($500)in addition to keeping my apt ($1250) and he says it’s unfair, that I’m taking him for a ride.  So I am glad I kept my apt, I will be moving back tonight.

  1. Jem said at 6:41 pm on Wednesday July 18, 2012:

    I also pay half of food, trips and incidentals but I am much more thrifty than he so I get deals on everything yet still pay half.  I think the bottom line is not so much who pays what but your style of spending.  If your style of spending doesn’t match your SO’s style it spells trouble.  My car for instance I purchased used, with cash, and now it’s 8yrs old…he would *owe* the dealership $25K on his Porsche if he wanted to sell it…too different!

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