September 19, 2021

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Can I dump my deadbeat boyfriend and keep his house?

Dear Penny,

I’m not married, but I’ve been with my boyfriend for 16 years. We have two children and a house that was bought in his name seven years ago. He’s very irresponsible with his credit and spending.

A year and a half ago he bought a food truck that he didn’t operate. He’s been paying storage fees to park the truck for a year. He later decided to open a food truck restaurant and lounge about six months ago. With this decision, he quit his full-time job to pursue his dream of being his own boss.

Shortly after he signed a lease and paid over $ 5,000 a month for an empty building, the city told him he couldn’t operate the food truck at that location without adding some features to the interior of the building (the lounge) . He repaired and renovated the building that still doesn’t have a kitchen. He has not received a permit from the city to operate the restaurant. I see he is unsuccessful with the restaurant because of the high rental and overhead costs that he cannot afford.

My main problem is that he didn’t try to work while the lounge is closed for renovations. He sleeps all day and when I get home he expects me to cook, clean, pet him and finish my studies.

All housing expenses, including the mortgage and utilities, are covered by me, which becomes stressful as I am taking on subsistence allowances and trying to find time to study.

I don’t think I want to stay in the relationship. Can I somehow take the mortgage on our house since it’s in his name? We tried to refinance the house about a year ago when interest rates started falling, but its credit score was as low as 500 so that didn’t work.


Dear T.,

It sounds like you have three children: two children plus one male child. Not being in this relationship anymore sounds like a very good goal.

There are no easy ways to keep the house unless your friend is willing to give you the deed. That seems very unlikely here, but if he has agreed, you will need to qualify with the lender based on your own credit and income.

Robin Hartill
Robin Hartill [ The Penny Hoarder ]

But there’s a good side: your name isn’t on the mortgage, so it’s yours credit-worthiness won’t be affected if you stop paying.

They don’t say you have savings. If you don’t, you might want to wait with the official separation to have time to save up for the first and last month’s rent and a deposit for a new apartment. To free up cash, tell your friend that you are no longer paying this mortgage.

What he can do is contact the lender about his options. If he bought a food truck a year and a half ago, it’s hard to imagine that the pandemic didn’t thwart his plans. If he’s got into financial hardship, directly or indirectly, as a result of COVID-19 and his mortgage is federally secured – more than half of all mortgages in the U.S. – he can still seek forbearance.

The deadline to apply if he has an FHA, VA or USDA loan is June 30th. If his mortgage is covered by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is no time to apply for a deferral. Even if his loan is unsupported by the government, he can ask his lender about his options. But he has to be the one taking care of it, not you.

The situation you are in sounds tremendously stressful. I’ll be honest: coping with this breakup will likely only increase short-term pressures. But focus on what you want your life to be like in a year or two. How much less stress do you think life will be when you complete this chapter?

I understand that leaving this house is frustrating, especially when you have made a lot of mortgage payments. But that money is gone, so don’t let it tarnish your judgment. It is clear that you want to get out of this relationship. Think of the money you’ve spent as a sacrifice in exchange for a fresh start.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and senior writer at The penny hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].