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Households are getting smaller

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The Census figures released last week shows that the local population in Wigan actually grew in the last decade, by 5.4%, fuelling a demand for more housing.

But what it also showed was that the number of households is rising. There are currently 23.4 million households in England and Wales, almost 2 million more than ten years ago.

While the number of households is growing, the size of them is decreasing rapidly. The Census shows that the average household size was 2.4 people per household in 2011, just over half of the 4.3 residents per household 100 years ago.

The reduction in size can be attributed to various factors: people living longer, people choosing to live alone and perhaps the rise in unmarried couples who choose to live together without being married.

It’s said that there are up to four million unmarried couples living together in the UK. Many couples chose to co-habit as they cannot afford to get married but could living together prove more costly for them if they break up in the future?

There is no such thing as a common law husband or wife. If you are not married and own a property together, it is very important to make sure you are protected from future loss by setting out – in a legal document called a Declaration of Trust - the agreed share in a property which each member of the couple has.

The document is made at the time the property is purchased, and sets out the share in the property which each part of the couple has. It relates to the property in question and can outline that the other partner will benefit if the property is sold, even if their name is not on the deeds to the home.

That way couples will ensure they do not become another statistic if things don’t go quite to plan.

By residential conveyancing solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Tom Bridge