of the services we offer at EJM Investigations is proving cohabitation – where people are living together without making this information known. There are a few reasons why we’re asked to investigate where cohabitation might be happening, and it’s important to understand why the help of a professional is necessary if you want to gather any evidence.
What does cohabitation mean?
Cohabitation is most often used to describe two people living in the same household, who are in a romantic relationship but are not married. More broadly, it can be used to describe two adults living together at the same address.
One of the services commonly carried out by private investigation companies such as EJM is cohabitation surveillance. This is the process of determining if two or more people are living in the same property.
Why is it important?
There are all kinds of reasons why someone may choose to find proof of cohabitation. Three of the most common are:
- If you’re separated/divorced and you’re paying maintenance payments.
Often when a couple with children separate, the partner earning the most money is required by the courts to provide maintenance payments to the other. Generally, these payments are conditional until the recipient finds a new partner.
If you believe your ex-partner is lying about their living arrangements in order to continue to receive maintenance payments, then it would be prudent to start cohabitation surveillance.
In this case, if you can prove your ex-partner is living with someone else then you may no longer be required to pay maintenance.
- If you’re a landlord and you need evidence that someone is sharing your property with another person who is not on the lease.
You may suspect a tenant of yours is illegally subletting against the terms of their contract. This is important as not only does a tenant who is under an illegal sub-let not have access to the correct legal protections, but it could also breach of the terms of your mortgage and invalidate your insurance.
Proof of cohabitation in breach of a contract will allow you to insist that the extra person move out of your property, under threat of eviction.
- If you’re a representative of a local council or HMRC, and are giving benefits to someone for living alone, when they aren’t.
There are several benefits that people may be entitled to if they are living alone, including Housing Benefits and Council Tax Support. In this instance cohabitation does not necessarily apply solely to couples. It could also apply to someone sharing a property with a friend, or a child who is over 18, and not declaring it.
In this case it’s important to determine proof of cohabitation to prevent further benefit fraud.
What evidence is needed to prove cohabitation?
If you suspect someone is being untruthful about their living situation for financial gain, the first step is to gather evidence.
It’s necessary to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the court, that a person is staying at the address in question the majority of the time. This can be difficult and time consuming. Not only would you need to demonstrate the person is staying at the address consistently over a period of time, the proof you provide would need to be clear and reliable in court.
This is why it is advisable to contact a private detective agency such as EJM investigations. Our professional investigators have considerable experience in this area, and will know precisely what evidence is required and how to go about gathering it efficiently and discreetly.
The most reliable way of doing this is through a period of systematic surveillance. Agents would be employed to gather photographic or video evidence from the property. They would be stationed at the address for several days, and then again for a similar period a week or two later, to help demonstrate that any cohabitation witnessed was a long term arrangement, and not just a short term visit.
They would create a detailed daily log of activities around the property, including movements by the suspect to and from the address. This will be presented as a report format admissible in court.
It’s also possible for a private investigator to search public records where they may find evidence of cohabitation, such as shared vehicle ownership or utility accounts registered at the address. Agents can also check social media accounts, which may provide evidence of shared activities that suggest the couple are living together. All of this information could be used to strengthen the case for cohabitation.
Is it morally right to pursue a cohabitation investigation?
It’s understandable to be hesitant when it comes to hiring someone to carry out surveillance. This is especially true if it’s surveillance of someone you have been close to, or if there are children involved.
While it’s okay if your ex-partner has moved on, they don’t have the right to continue to take money from you for maintenance that they no longer need. If they are unwilling to admit to cohabiting while you have strong suspicions that they are, you haven’t really much choice.
If you’re a landlord who suspects your tenant is sub-letting then you have the right to determine who stays in your property. Not only that, but you have a responsibility to ensure the property is occupied safely and within the conditions of your mortgage and insurance policies.
Whatever reason you have, if you’re considering hiring EJM for cohabitation surveillance, be assured it is a professional service, and you’re entirely justified in the circumstances discussed here.
At EJM our investigators are very experienced in dealing with such cases and work with complete discretion. You can be confident that, should we discover the people being investigated are not cohabiting, then they need not find out about the investigation and jeopardize your relationship.
Gathering evidence to prove cohabitation on your own is almost impossible if you have any other responsibilities in life – you need experts who can provide surveillance services for long periods of time potentially, and who are well versed in photography and the proper collation of evidence for the courts.
Whether you’re a landlord, an ex-spouse or you represent the council and you need help from a private investigator to prove cohabitation, give us a call on 01772 334700.