They say breaking up is hard to do, but breaking up while you have a mortgage together? Talk about complicated. 

We’ve got some guidance for you below, but we always recommend working with an independent legal professional to figure out the best options available to you.

When does my ex have to keep paying their half of the mortgage?

Your ex will need to keep paying if you’re both named on a joint mortgage agreement. 

In this scenario, you’re equally responsible for the monthly repayments. So even if your ex has moved out, they’re still liable as long as their name remains on the mortgage. This is true even if the loan was based only on one of your incomes.

Keep in mind that if one of you fails to repay your share of the mortgage, it can lead to you both being chased for the money owed to your mortgage lender. This can impact your credit scores and make it more difficult to borrow money in the future. 

Ultimately, it’s in your ex’s best interests to keep making their share of the mortgage payments until you can reach a resolution (more on that later).

When does my ex not have to pay half the mortgage?

If you’re named on the mortgage and your ex-partner isn’t, it means they were never legally responsible for paying the mortgage. So of course, after they move out, they’re still not legally responsible. 

Even if you were splitting the bills 50/50 beforehand, if you fail to make the full repayment after your ex moves out, your mortgage lender will chase you (and you alone) for the money owed. They won’t go after your ex. 

So, what can you do if your ex moves out and stops paying their share of the mortgage? Again, it depends on the situation.

What can I do if my ex stops paying their half of the mortgage?

1. If you have a joint mortgage and your ex stops paying:

When your ex is named on a joint mortgage agreement, they have a legal obligation to pay half the mortgage. But if they simply decide to stop paying, you can do the following:

  • First, contact your mortgage lender ASAP. Some lenders will be lenient if you keep them updated about a change in circumstances. They may be willing to help by extending your mortgage term or switching your mortgage to an interest-only deal to reduce your payments until your situation is resolved. 
  • Next, put a request in writing to your ex, asking that they keep up their share of the mortgage payments. It’s essential that it’s in writing, as you may need to use it as proof later on if things escalate. Consider sending a recorded delivery letter, so you know they’ve received your request. Or send an email!
  • If they keep refusing to pay, you can apply to the court for spousal support (if you’re married and in the process of getting a divorce). If you were living togther without being married, the court can still help – you can ask them for a court order to make your ex pay their share. Just be warned that this can be a lengthy process.

Read more: Dealing with your mortgage after divorce 

Whether your lender has agreed to reduce your payments or not, you need to make sure you’re making your monthly payments on time. If you end up in arrears (behind on your payments), you could run the risk of losing your home. And if the lender repossesses the property, they’ll chase you and your ex-partner for any costs, legal fees, or losses made.

2. If you’re the only one named on the mortgage and your ex moves out:

Your ex can’t be compelled to continue paying their half of the mortgage when they’re not named on the mortgage agreement. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. 

You should contact your lender ASAP and let them know that your circumstances have changed. They may be willing to help you out in the short term by lowering your monthly repayments or switching you to an interest-only deal. 

You could also remortgage to a cheaper mortgage deal, but you’ll need to consider any fees and early repayment charges if you’re locked into a fixed-term deal, and it still has a while to run. A mortgage broker, like Habito, can help you figure out if remortgaging at this stage is a good idea.

And now that you’re living alone, you may find that you can claim certain benefits, which could help with any short-term financial pressure. Check with Citizens Advice to see if you’re eligible.

Can I remove my ex from a joint mortgage?

Yes, you can. But if you want to remove your ex-partner from the mortgage, you’ll need to go through the proper channels to buy them out. 

Buying out your partner means, with signed permission from the other person and agreement from the lender, their name is removed from the mortgage and the title deeds. In exchange, you’ll pay them money towards their share of the property.

Once this happens, you’ll then take ownership of their share (known as a transfer of equity), becoming solely responsible for paying the monthly mortgage payments yourself.

If you’re considering this option, you should get independent legal advice.

Read more: Your guide to buying out a partner in a mortgage

What if the lender refuses to remove my ex from the mortgage?

If your current mortgage lender doesn’t think you’ll be able to afford the monthly repayments on your own, they may refuse to remove your ex from the mortgage. 

In this scenario, you may want to consider remortgaging with a different lender under your name only. If you meet their affordability criteria (that is, you can prove that you can afford to make the monthly repayments alone), you could potentially release some of the equity built up in your property, pay off your ex with the extra cash, and take sole ownership of your home. 

Alternatively, if you want a clean break and to move on to pastures new, you could sell the property, pay off the mortgage, and split the profits with your ex-partner. 

While this is probably the simplest solution, you should remember that selling can take a lot of time and money. And this can make things difficult if you’re not getting on well with your ex.

The bottom line? Get expert advice

When it comes to exes and mortgages, you should get independent, expert advice on both the legal and financial side of things. You’ll save a lot of time and money if you can come to an agreement that suits you both. 

Thinking about remortgaging to buy out your ex-partner? Habito can help. Start by plugging your numbers into our remortgage calculator or answer a few quick questions to chat with one of our remortgage experts.