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The Moneyist: ‘I will be a tenant’: My boyfriend wants me to move into his home and pay rent. I suggested only paying for utilities and groceries. What should I do?

‘I offered to pay for all the utilities, internet, cable and groceries.’ Read More...
Dear Quentin,

My boyfriend recently bought a house under his name. Before buying, I suggested that we buy it together, as the plan was for us to move in together. However, he said he wanted to buy it himself.

Now it’s time to move in, but he wants me to pay rent. I told him that it was not fair for me to pay rent because if we broke up or if he sold the house, all the income from the sale would go to him, and I would get nothing.

I currently live in a condo that I recently paid off. So I have no mortgage, and the expectation is that I would rent out my condo. He also owns a paid-off condo, which he also plans to rent out. 

He thinks that since I will benefit from renting my condo, I should pay rent. I disagree. I decided to buy a condo because I didn’t want to pay rent. I will benefit from renting out my place, but that doesn’t change the fact that the house is under his name. 

‘If we broke up or if he sold the house, all the income from the sale would go to him, and I would get nothing.’

I will be paying a portion of the mortgage, but he would earn 100% of the equity. Instead of rent, I offered to pay for all the utilities, internet, cable and groceries. 

In addition, he is bringing all his own furniture. The only room I will be able to help decorate is the family room, and he is already telling me how he wants to decorate it. He is making me feel like I will be a tenant or roommate.

I will be paying to live there, but the house, the setting and the decor will be his.

On one occasion before he bought the house, I suggested that we rent a place together. His response was an absolute no, because he did not want to pay rent to a third party when he already owns a condo. I feel that now he wants me to do exactly what he was not willing to do.  

What do you recommend I do?

The Girlfriend 

Dear Girlfriend,

Ultimately, your boyfriend will have equity in the house because he is taking the risk. He wanted to buy a house by himself. If you bought a second home and wanted your boyfriend to pay rent, I would tell him the same thing.

If you agree to live in your boyfriend’s house, remember that the owner sets the rules. Your choices are to move in under his conditions or stay in the comfort of your own condo.

And sure, he will rent out his old condo, but you would you also rent out yours — and with that income you would likely more than cover any rent payments to him. Remember, he will be paying monthly mortgage payments on the new house. 

You need to decide what you believe is fair, and your boyfriend will decide how much he believes you should pay (no more than half the mortgage payment, in my view). And you will both act accordingly. No one is forcing the other’s hand.

‘If you bought a home and wanted him to pay rent, I would tell him the same thing.’

You say very little about the nature of your relationship. How long have you been together? Five years? One year? This will obviously influence what kind of commitment you are both willing to agree to at this point. 

There are also bigger questions about your relationship and whether you both see a long-term future. Given your current impasse, it seems like he wants to at least keep your finances separate.

Ultimately, you both have choices to make. Do you want to move in on his terms? And is this the kind of relationship you want? 

Some people on the Moneyist Facebook page are saying, “Run!” But you have another choice: You can stay where you are, maintain your independence and enjoy this relationship on your terms.

Time will give you all the other answers you need.

Yocan email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

‘I always say yes’: The trainers at my gym flatter and cajole me into taking classes. I’ve racked up credit-card debt to pay for them. Why can’t I say no?

‘I’ve suffered for a long time’: My mother demanded I return my inheritance so she could give it to my brother, who has a drug addiction. What should I have done?

‘This has bugged me all my life’: My estranged father gave me $1,000 a month to buy a house in California. My brother cried foul, and told me to stop. Who’s right?

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