26 June 2019

Cohabitants, think twice before you start

By Marieke Morshuis

The law has all kinds of legal provisions for married couples who separate.

However, nothing is arranged for cohabitants. At the end of the relationship that can lead to many surprises.

This post was reviewed and updated on 15 July 2020

Suppose you have invested € 75,000 in your partner’s home. You have moved in with your partner. The property belongs to him or her. Your partner does not have the money for a renovation, so you pay the contractor. Then the relationship ends. What then? You want your investment back. That seems logical, right? But it is not logical.


If you were married, you would have been entitled to a refund of your investment. Depending on the timing (January 1, 2012), the value of that refund may have been nominally or partially increased. There is a legal provision for this situation.

Unmarried but jointly owned

If the property had been jointly owned by you and your partner, you would also have received your money back. There is also a legal provision for joint ownership if one of the owners has deposited more than the other.

Unmarried and no joint ownership

For your situation (unmarried and the house is not jointly owned) there is nothing regulated by law. That is why the Supreme Court recently had to rule on this (ECLI: NL: HR: 2019: 707). The conclusion is simple: you get nothing.

You will not get your investment back because there is no legal basis for you to have a right to reimbursement.

In this situation, you are dependent on general property law because no specific rules have been drawn up for cohabitants. That makes it difficult for you to get your investment back. You will then have to take complicated legal figures such as “unjust enrichment” or “undue payment” out of the closet, but it is difficult to make a successful appeal.

Alternatively, you must be able to prove that you and your partner (tacitly) had an agreement that you would get your investment back. That will not be easy either.

Think before you begin

In short: if you want to invest money in your partner’s home, first go to the notary to make a cohabitation agreement. In it you can record that you are entitled to a reimbursement of your investment when you separate.


This blog appeared earlier in the Telegraaf.

Marieke Morshuis

Marieke Morshuis

Lawyer / associate partner

Marieke Morshuis has a large wide-ranging inheritance practice.

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