Right of occupation: why do I have to sign an occupier consent form if my boyfriend is buying a property?

Question: My boyfriend is buying a new flat. His solicitor says that as I am also going to be moving into the flat, I will have to sign some sort of consent form for my boyfriend’s lender and obtain independent legal advice about it. 

Why do I have to do this?

Answer: On completion of the purchase your boyfriend will acquire a legal interest in the flat. 

As well as legal ownership of a property there is also beneficial ownership. A beneficial owner has a beneficial interest in a property. A beneficial interest can be acquired in various ways, which is why lenders are concerned by adult occupiers who may try to claim an interest in future.

Your boyfriend’s lender will wish to ensure that you cannot claim any right of occupation or a beneficial interest in the flat, should your boyfriend default on the mortgage and possession proceedings prove necessary. 

Accordingly, the lender will require you to postpone your rights of occupation of the flat in their favour by signing an occupier consent form.

As you will be giving up your right to occupy the property, your boyfriend’s lender will want to ensure that you fully understand what you are doing.

Therefore, they will require you to seek independent legal advice so that in the future you will be unable to allege that your signature to the occupier consent form was obtained by duress or under pressure.

If you fail to take such advice and fail to sign the form, the lender might not proceed with the loan to your boyfriend.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here.

Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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