Down payment

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Down payment

My domestic partner and I bought a house. Now we’ve broken up and he wants it back. Do I have to give him his part of the down payment on the house back?

Asked on December 25, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You don't have to give him his down payment right now, but he would be entilted to his share of the equity when the house is sold--e.g. if he's half owner, he gets half the equity or profit. Note, however, that you can't make him wait forever to sell the house and get his share: there is a procedure called an action "for partition" by which a co- or part-owner can bring a legal action (i.e. a lawsuit) and force a sale of property; therefore, while you don't need to pay him out right away, it is in your interest to come to some voluntary agreement with him that you find ok, so that you don't force him to go to court and bring a legal action, which will increase costs for everyone and ultimately result in a forced sale. 
As to the mortgage: you can't remove his name without lender agreement, without paying off the mortgage, or without refinancing in your name only. But if you work out a plan or timeline for you to buy him out, refinancing can be inclueded as part of that.

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