How do I get my boyfriends name off of our house?
It’s not unusual for relationships to change. Divorce, separation, or one partner simply walking away from a relationship may make it necessary to transfer the title of property from one person to another. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “My boyfriend and I are no longer together. We bought a house together and I want to take him off the title of my house. What can I do?”
Title vs. Deed to a home?
In real estate terms, the term “title” refers to the person or persons who have ownership of the property and the legal right to use the real property.
Owners may possess a “deed” to the property, which establishes the right to claim ownership, but they may not hold the title or have a “clear title” until all the mortgage payments have been paid (a title may also not be “clear” if there are liens or a covenant of record (e.g., promises of access made by past owners to other property owners)).
When someone asks whether they can transfer “title” what they generally mean is they want to transfer legal ownership of the land or real property to another individual.
Assuming she and the boyfriend still have a mortgage, however, what she is really asking is how she can remove her boyfriend from the deed. In this case, she can use a quitclaim deed, although the title for the property would remain with the primary lien holder until the mortgage has been fully paid and the lender issues a quit claim deed and transfers the title of the property to them.
Quitclaim deed and eliminating the interest in property
So what is a quitclaim deed?
A quitclaim deed can be used if two parties own property jointly and one party wishes to give the property to the other party, thus eliminating their interest in the property. After the quitclaim is processed you would then have ownership and responsibility for the property. A quitclaim deed is commonly used in divorce or separation when one party is given property in the divorce settlement which had been previously jointly owned.
So assuming her boyfriend decides to transfer title of the property to her, she can file a quitclaim deed on her own by reviewing her state's deed requirements and downloading a form from a legal website. She will then have to take the quitclaim deed and record it with the county recorder's office in the county where the property is located.
Issues with the quit claim deed
Keep in mind; the quitclaim deed is simply a legal document, and although it will relinquish ownership of the property in question, it will not release someone from their responsibility to pay the mortgage (assuming there is one).
If this woman is trying to give herself full ownership of the property and also take her boyfriend off the mortgage, signing a quitclaim deed will not be sufficient. In fact, if she and her boyfriend bought the property together and his name is on the mortgage this means the lender’s underwriter based the terms of the mortgage on the credit and financial condition of the two of them.
In this case, the mortgage lender is generally very hesitant to remove one person’s name from the mortgage, which could potentially increase their risk if payments were not made. If the boyfriend’s name remained on the mortgage with the girlfriend and they failed to make payments, the mortgage company could attempt to recover payments from all mortgage holders.
Exceptions do exist. Some lenders may be willing to allow you to assume the loan. Talk to your lender about this option before refinancing.
Refinance the mortgage to eliminate co-signor’s name
As mentioned above, the mortgage company probably will not agree to remove someone’s name from the mortgage note simply because they asked nicely. And why should they? All that generally does is increase their risk that the loan will not be repaid.
Your best option if you want to remove your boyfriend’s name from the mortgage is to ask your mortgage company if you can refinance the loan without your boyfriend. Unfortunately, given the current lending requirements, this could be tough if your credit history or income is not sufficient to qualify for the loan on your own.
Assuming you meet the credit and income requirements, however, you will need to review your credit report and verify it is accurate. You will also need to review your existing loan to verify you will not have to pay a prepayment penalty if you pay you loan off early. Review all of your lender options, including both conventional lenders as well as FHA-approved lenders. Certain lenders may have different standards and rates for lending.
Finally, you will need to gather all the necessary documentation proving employment, income, and assets. This process can be very tedious and can include a variety of forms (i.e., W-2s, pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, retirement information, and other investment income).
If the lender agrees to refinance your home the original loan will be paid off with the refinanced loan and you can sign new loan documents which name you as the sole borrower.
If you and your boyfriend hold the property free and clear without a mortgage you may be able to use a quitclaim deed to transfer the title from your boyfriend to you. This process will not, however, guarantee that the property is free of liens.
If the property is not owned free and clear, you do not have title of the property, it has remained with the mortgage company. You and your boyfriend, however, are on the deed. You may be able to have your boyfriend removed from the deed, but you will not be able to transfer the mortgage debt through a quitclaim deed.
You can ask your mortgage lender if you can assume the loan, but if they refuse, you can investigate whether you could qualify to refinance the loan in your own name. If you do, you can refinance the loan and have the loan in your name only.
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