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Partner moving in with his three children - what should he pay towards rent/bills, and anything else we need to think about?

(33 Posts)
GiveUsThisDayOurDailyEggs Tue 23-Aug-11 10:15:40

My partner and his three children (gulp!) will be moving in with my son and I in about six weeks. Before we got together, I was considering getting a lodger(s) for my spare rooms to supplement income, but held off with this plan as the relationship developed - so that he could stay over lots, often with his kids, and we could see how the relationship developed.

We're now at a stage when living together seems like a natural progression, for all of us. So, my three main questions are:

(1) What should my partner pay in terms of rent/contribution towards bills? If I were to have lodgers, my two spare rooms (which his children will occupy) would together let out for at least £600 around here, for rent plus bills (not including food). I need this supplemental income - but I'm wondering if it's unfair to charge my partner this amount if he's, well, my partner ... but equally, I can't subsidise a family of four to my own detriment! Should he just pay half of all bills for the sake of fairness?

(2) What kind of agreement should we draw up to formalise the arrangement? I'm aware of lodger agreements and living together agreements - but is there anything else that would be more suitable? It's my property, and I want to make sure it remains only mine (i.e. he doesn't end up owning some of it by virtue of living here/paying towards the mortgage).

(3) And is there anything really key, on a practical level, that I need to bear in mind? We're thinking there'll be a need for house rules, allocated chores, routine, meal planning, the kids doing their share round the house (especially as they get older), making time for each other, etc. But are we missing anything else obvious?

Incidentally, his children would be here about half the time, and between us, there'd be four children in the house aged between 2 and 8. We all get along, my son's fond of my partner and his kids like me, and the kids - although they squabble sometimes - get along well. It's not perfect/ideal, but - at least at the moment - it's about as workable as we could hope it to be for this kind of set-up.

Many thanks for any advice.

Bonsoir Tue 23-Aug-11 10:19:11

I think you need to keep very careful accounts for bills (utilities, groceries) for a while, and agree to review them every month in order to work out what your marginal additional expenditure is now that you have DP and his children living in your home. And then negotiate a fair share for him!

If you had been planning to rent out your rooms, fair enough that your DP gives you the same money that you would have got for them on the open market.

BoneyBackJefferson Tue 23-Aug-11 11:02:38

I think you need to think about not only what you want out of this but what your "partner" (in quotes because you seem to want a lodger with benefits) is going to get out of this.

you need to sit down together and discuss what the current separate bills are to find a cmopremise that works for both of you.

OTheHugeRaveningWolef Tue 23-Aug-11 11:05:25

Surely if you're joining your households, you need to sit down and work out how much you as a household need to spend?

Or are you both going to keep separate accounts and be responsible for spending only on your own DC?

Snowgirl1 Tue 23-Aug-11 11:29:12

I have to admit I was a bit surprised when I read that you'd considered charging your partner the market rate for rooms his children will occupy. Couldn't he just pay you half of what he'll be saving on rent and pay half the bills? He'll save half on rent, you'll get a bit extra towards your mortgage - everyone benefits a bit, but one isn't profiting from the other. That's what my DH & I did (before we got married, when he moved into my house).

Recommend getting a joint account and putting equal amounts in to cover food, bills etc. Avoids feeling hard-done by when you've had to fork out for the Xth time in a row for the weekly shop, or complex calculations of who's paid for what and who owes who how much.

GiveUsThisDayOurDailyEggs Tue 23-Aug-11 13:34:41

Thank you for posts.

Bonsoir - That was an idea I had (my partner paying the going rate for the two rooms), but like I said, I'm not sure that's fair.

Boney - It's a shame my post may have come across that way (i.e. as though my partner is effectively a potential lodger with shagging benefits). We're both anxious not to "use" each other, but also are mindful that there are mutual benefits to be gained from sharing the costs of running a household (as is the case for all couples, married or not, with kids from a previous relationship or not), and we're trying to come up with an arrangement that is fair, and which means we're both benefiting and neither of us would be out of pocket as a result of living with the other. What my partner is going to get out of this is living costs that will be much lower than if he were living on his own with his children - with the same benefit for me.

Wolef - I can see the value of having a joint account for food and bills - good plan - but we would plan to run our our own cars, and pay for clothes, presents, etc, for our respective children out of our own money.

Snowgirl - That's fair enough, being surprised about my idea of charging the market rate to my partner for the two rooms. It would be inclusive of all bills, though, so would still be good value - but again, it's just an idea - a starting point - and like I said, it doesn't feel 100% right/fair. I hadn't thought of the idea of my partner paying in rent half of what he would pay elsewhere, living on his own with his children; that's a really good idea and seems fair. Thanks for suggesting that. I like the joint account idea too, for bills and food. Simple and fair - and means we can cover spending on our kids from our own accounts.

We've both been financially messed about by previous partners - he with a debt-accruing ex, and me with a bipolar ex who was prone to massive spending sprees. So we're both cautious moving forward - reluctant to entwine our finances too much - and are keen to come up with as fair an arrangement as possible.

Thanks again.

OneMoreChap Tue 23-Aug-11 16:58:59

Don't entwine your finances.

Joint account for food and bills.

Him+3, you+1 - he pays 2/3 of it.
Yes, I know he'll be paying more for food & bills. [which will leave you more to pay your mortgage...]

When I moved into my GFs house, I had to sign some papers that I had no claim on the house... for the building society. When we married, that changed.

His CSA arrangements may change?

eslteacher Tue 23-Aug-11 18:39:12

Based on what I do with DP who owns the house where we both live, I'd say:

- Joint account for food and household maintenance products (cleaning stuff, lightbulbs etc). You each decide a fixed amount you'll pay into it per month (e.g. him £300 and you £200), and use it for supermarket shops

- Maybe easiest if you just continue to pay all the bills to start with, but he pays you half or two thirds of the total monthly cost via direct debit every month?

- RE: rent, it's a tricky one...I'd be very resentful if my DP charged me market rent, but then I know he doesn't need the money plus I don't have my children also taking up another bedroom. This could be a tricky'd definitely be within your rights to ask for some rent but I think you should sit down together with all your monthly income and outgoing to work out how much he should reasonably pay.

As a stepparent myself, I think you should DEFINITELY also talk about discipline issues. Will you both be happy with each other discipling your children? What if he thinks your kid is acting unreasonably, but you disagree, or vice versa? Do you each want to discipline your own children without the other getting involved directly? Maybe you've already had these conversations, but if not it would be top of my list! A glance at the stepparenting board shows a multitude of problems that can arise when the two partners living together with stepchildren don't agree on these types of things...

eslteacher Tue 23-Aug-11 18:40:46

Also, what about things like if you need to buy a new washing machine or a new boiler or a new TV? Will you as the "landlord" pay for this, or would you expect your DP to contribute?

EssentialFattyAcid Tue 23-Aug-11 18:46:12

I think you are on very shaky ground re (2) and should get legal advice. If your dp has similar assets to you it shouldn't be too bad, but if you have a house and he doesn't you could be in big trouble if you split up.

hairylights Tue 23-Aug-11 18:49:42

He should pay a minimum of four sixths of everything.

nje3006 Tue 23-Aug-11 19:07:18

I'm not sure 4/6 (or 2/3) of things is right b/c his kids won't be there all the time so won't need feeding all the time. Maybe it partly depends on ages as well, a boy of 17 eats a lot more than a boy of 7.

It doesn't sound right to charge him a commercial rate, after all it's not really a commercial arrangement. OTOH he does need to contribute and maybe Bonsoir's idea of working out what the marginal additional cost actually is would work. It might mean a lot of paperwork though.

DP and I have an account for household bills but we didn't do that for quite a while after we moved in. But he pays all expenses for his children out of his personal account. He makes a bigger contribution towards food as he has 4 children and I have none but then I eat more expensive food than he would choose so it's swings and roundabouts.

There are so many things to think about when you move in together and you each bring your own 'luggage' - it ain't easy!

ImperialBlether Tue 23-Aug-11 19:41:46

Is your home big enough for 3 extra people? Will you be happy sharing your living space with his children (in particular.) It would be awful if you felt hemmed in.

Of course you have to charge him rent. I don't see why he should pay half of what he would have being paying normally. What should you subsidise him?

As far as food etc is concerned, I think you should pay half each. His children won't be there all the time - I am assuming yours will be there all the time?

Other bills should be just split down the middle - I think a joint account with no overdraft facility where you both pay a set amount into would work there.

FabbyChic Tue 23-Aug-11 19:50:35

Well seeing as the food costs are going to go through the roof he has to cover the costs of the additional food, they will use more electricity than you, more gas, more washing powder, more toilet roll. So say the weekly layout is 200 total then divide that by 5, he pays 3 5ths. i.e he pays 120 you pay 80.

ImperialBlether Tue 23-Aug-11 19:52:59

What's the 3/5ths based on, Fabby? He has 3 children.

adamschic Tue 23-Aug-11 20:01:45

I would look at how much your house would rent out at and then half that, charge him that in rent plus half the council tax. Then go halves on the food bill. You food bill will be slightly smaller than his if his 3 are living with you half the week so that would account for the heat & light.

I am assuming that you are not losing out on benefits by having him living with you, presume you aren't entitled to much, help on your own because if you are then he needs to make that up too.

ImperialBlether Tue 23-Aug-11 20:07:55

Why should he pay half of the normal rent, adamschic? If he's paying £300 instead of £600, the OP is losing £300 per month and he is gaining £300 per month. How is that fair?

ImperialBlether Tue 23-Aug-11 20:08:31

Oh sorry, did you mean half of the amount of the whole house rental? Yes, I think that's okay - sorry to misunderstand!

adamschic Tue 23-Aug-11 20:19:25

Yes half of how much a house like that would rent out for. Just as a benchmark, which might be half of what he is paying in rent now, half the CT and go halves on the food bill. Then everyone gains and no-one feels put upon.

ImperialBlether Tue 23-Aug-11 20:20:46

Yes that's right, because if he was sharing with a friend, that's what he'd have to pay.

HattiFattner Tue 23-Aug-11 20:28:10

you seem to have an open relationship. Maybe ask him how he thinks the money should be organised - get him to set out his expectations, and then see if you feel you will be out of pocket. His suggestions acts as the starting point for negotiations.

At the same time, look at how other financial aspects are going to be divided eg money for school trips/uniforms/clubs for his kids - will this be from shared income or from his income? Does his ex pay maintenance? WIll you be losing out on CB? or gaining? Does your ex pay will that be affected?

If you are currently a single parent, you will lose your 25% on council tax - you need to factor this in.

You should also look at relative income. If you are on 20k and he is on 50k, should he have more disposable income while you are struggling?

WHile you are having these conversations, think about syncronising kids visits with exes, so that if his kids are with his ex, your child is with your ex and you can have a weekend of peace - never underestimate how draining life can be with so many kids!

LeninGrad Tue 23-Aug-11 20:29:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GiveUsThisDayOurDailyEggs Tue 23-Aug-11 21:33:37

Wow. Thanks for more posts. Useful to hear different ideas. Interesting suggestion to charge him half rental value of my home. That seems a lot (rental value about £1,200/month) when my mortgage is less than £500/month. I liked the idea of charging him half what he'd pay to live in a three-bed semi in town, which is what he'd probably do (sharing with a friend) if he didn't live here. That seems fairer somehow - less like I'm profiting from him - although he'd effectively be paying a very low amount to live in a roomy four-bed detached house in the country. (Yes to the poster who asked if we have enough space for two adults and up to four children. It could become a strain if it were full-time, but it works out at just one week night - DS and I are elsewhere on the other week night they'd be here - and every other weekend.)

After my last post, I spent some time looking at figures. Combining half my bills with half what my partner would pay to rent a nearby three-bed comes to £600/month. This is the same as what the two spare rooms would be worth, let to lodgers. It would cover my mortgage payments - and represent a good deal for my partner. If he were to pay half what MY house would rent for plus bills, he'd be looking at over £800/month before food, which I don't think he can afford, and which would be enough for me to tuck away savings while draining his finances ... wouldn't that be unfair?

Hmm. There are even more ways to approach this than I thought. I'm feeling a bit bewildered now. sad

A definite yes to sharing food 50:50 - this is about right because his kids don't have packed lunches, eat at their grandma's twice a week, and my partner gets meals (lunch and dinner) provided at work about two thirds of the time. He says he spends about the same on grocery/household shopping as I do.

Thank you to whoever suggested discussing discipline. This hasn't been an issue yet, but I think it's a really good idea to talk about this.

To the poster who asked if he'd chip in if the boiler broke, the washing machine needed replacing, etc - what do you do in your scenario, where you live with your partner (who owns the house)? Is it fair to add on a bit of a premium to his rent to cover wear and tear/breakages? It's all so business-like - but I can see it needs thinking about.

Do you think it's fair that he does his share keeping on top of the garden with me, when it's not his house, but it is his home?

Lots to think about.

I'm a bit worried that joining households like this, and the relationship taking on a much more transactional dimension, will put a bit of a strain on us. But I suppose that unless you're going into things from the start, 50:50, no previous relationship baggage/kids/property/accrued assets or debts, it's going to be more complicated. We can't change these factors, so it's finding a way to work with them. We both get along really well, and the dynamic with the kids is great; I want to be able to build on that, not compromise it.

Thanks again for all ideas. Food for thought. And am replying on phone, so it's awkward to scroll up to refer to posts - so sorry for not mentioning names/missing any key points.

GiveUsThisDayOurDailyEggs Tue 23-Aug-11 21:46:00

Just seen extra few posts.

I don't claim benefits (other than child benefit), so none affected. He'd pay for non-food purchases for his kids (clothes, trips, etc) and I'd pay for my son.

Not sure how my child benefit would be affected? I claim it for DS; his ex claims it for their children. Would maintenance be affected, other than him having to be able to afford to pay it to his ex as well as his living costs at my house? My ex's maintenance payments to me shouldn't change, should they?

We both earn £30k pro rata, but he works full-time and I work three days/week. I'd pick up his kids from school one day a week and once a fortnight to help out. He has a pension; I don't (it's my house). Is any of this especially relevant?

Fortunately, we already get every other weekend child-free, and we have talked about the importance of "protecting" this time for us. It's lovely - restorative. His ex can be a bit trying - chopping and changing dates around from time to time without discussion or much notice - but my ex is supportive of the relationship and flexible, so we should still be able to have that time together ... except when, as at the moment, DS doesn't want to go to his dad's!

LeninGrad Tue 23-Aug-11 22:24:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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