Saturday, September 20, 2008

Housing for Separated Fathers

With separation, housing becomes an urgent and thorny issue. You might well own your current house with your partner – what happens to that, and especially the money you have tied up in it? Even if you’re renting, there are issues that need to be faced. As for where you go, what’s the best path to take, renting or buying another property?

Your Current House

If you’ve been renting your house, and one of you will be remaining, in whose name is the lease? If it’s in your name and you’re moving out, both you and your ex should be aware that there’s no automatic transfer of lease to her. You’ll need to talk to the landlord and make new arrangements. You’ll also want your deposit back, since the amount will be very useful when renting a new place.

If you own, the two of you will need to make arrangements for your property. If it’s owned jointly, as most are, you have two choices. If one of you intends to remain in the house, that person will have to buy out the other. You can also decide to sell the house and split the money. If your partner is buying you out, make sure the arrangements aren’t just private, but registered through the building society, so you’re formally released from the mortgage. If not, then legally the property will still be classed as partly yours, and if your ex defaults on the mortgage, it can adversely ruin your credit rating.

Where to Move?

When you leave, you can either buy a new house or rent. Rental has many attractions in the short term, as you decide what you want to do and where you want to live. Be aware that most rentals are on renewable short-term six month leases. You’ll initially pay the first month’s rent plus a deposit (usually equal to a month’s rent) which can be refunded when you leave, as long as the property is in good condition.

You might consider renting with a friend, but make sure both your names are on the lease, otherwise, if the other person is named as the renter and moves out, you might find yourself homeless.

If you decide to buy, you’ll almost certainly have to downsize, since you’ll be relying on just your income rather than that of a couple. However, with a 100% mortgage you won’t need a down payment, although, with some mortgages you might need to find money for stamp duty, valuation fees and legal fees. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deal.

Before you look at any property, make a checklist of what you need. Apart from the basics, each of your children should have their own bedroom (budget and the number of children might not make this possible), and there should be a garden where your kids can play. If you buy, even if it’s just a small property, it puts you back on the property ladder, and if you can make a good down payment, your monthly mortgage might be less than rent.

The other question is where you should buy or rent. There are distinct advantages in staying close to your former home, since it makes contact with your children much easier. However, some separated fathers prefer to move away. This can be a job, the desire to make a clean break, or cheaper housing prices in another part of the country. There are pluses and minuses to both that you need to weight for yourself.

When You Move

Regardless of where you move, when you do switch addresses there are some things you need to do. Before you transport everything to your new place, go through items – do you need or even want them? Moving is always a good opportunity for a clearout.

You’ll also need to inform people about your change of address. That’s not only friends, but the following: banks, building societies, any pensions you receive, National Insurance, Inland Revenue, credit card companies, DVLA, insurance and your GP. This will ensure that important items of mail follow you to your new home.


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