How to Protect Yourself Before Moving in With Your Significant Other

Written by Steve Lau.

You are on the cusp of moving in with your significant other. Its wine and roses for all and you are ready to sign the lease. Before taking that big step, I recommend taking the following quiz:

1. Are you signing the lease by yourself or is your partner signing it as well? Do you know the legal ramifications of either?

2. Have you performed a background check on your partner's criminal and credit history? If not, do you know how?

3. Have you worked out with your partner how the property you will put into your new love nest (including joint purchases) will be divided up in case of a split up?

4. Who is responsible when the rent becomes due and money is tight?

5. If your partner locks you out, what do you do? What happens to your stuff?

6. If your partner brings into your rental illegal contraband that he/she "forgot" to tell you about, will you be criminally liable even though it is found inside but is not yours?

7. Is it a crime if you and your significant other quarrel and one of you gets pushed, leaving no visible injury?

If you answered "no" or "I do not know" to any one of these questions, you may be leaving yourself open to an incredible amount of pain and suffering. This article and future ones will help you answer these important questions and to better protect yourself.

Contract issues

The lease is a written contract between you and the landlord, which binds you both to particular duties and obligations. If you, alone, sign the lease as a tenant, it means that you are 100% responsible for all of the agreement's duties and obligations, including the payment of rent.

If both you and your partner sign on as tenants, this means that the landlord has the right to enforce the lease agreement 100% against either of you. For example, most roommates split the rent when it becomes due. If your partner for any reason fails to come up with his or her share, (i.e. bounced check, out of town, et cetera.), the landlord can enforce immediate payment of the entire rent due by holding you responsible for breach of contract. The same goes for any damages to the apartment. If both you and your partner have signed the lease agreement, both of you will be equally responsible for repairing the damages. However, if your partner skipped town and has left you alone, the landlord can enforce payment for 100% of the damages from you, the remaining tenant.

Afterwards, you can sue your out of town partner who wrote the bad check for damages.