Joint ownership of property

Joint ownership between unmarried couples, friends, parents and siblings is a growing trend. Whether this is due to help getting on the property ladder, purchasing investment properties with friends, or inheriting property under a will, jointly owned properties come with the potential for a difficult and upsetting ownership dispute in future years.

The most common situation can be seen between unmarried cohabitees. Contrary to popular belief, in England and Wales there is no such thing as a “common law spouse”. When a cohabiting couple separate, the rules for dealing with the property are the same as property owners who are not in a relationship and jointly own property for other purposes such as investment.

How do disputes arise?

Many disputes over jointly owned property arise when a relationship breaks down and the owners disagree on whether the property should be sold, or the proportion of the equity each of them should receive when the property is sold, or ownership transferred.

What can I do?

If you own a property with someone else and cannot agree on either the sale of property or the splitting of equity, it is possible to apply to the Court to resolve the situation.

Applications are made to the Court under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). The Court has wide-ranging powers under TOLATA and can make an order that the property be sold and/or how the equity should be split.

Myerson can help guide you through this process, whether you are defending or fighting for your rights in a property.

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FAQ’s

My partner and I own a property 50/50. Is it possible for our share in the property to change so that I am entitled to more than 50%?

If there is an express provision in the transfer document or in a declaration of trust the parties will be bound by those terms unless they can establish:

  • that the declaration was invalid or incorrect; or
  • that there has been a subsequent variation.

This will be very difficult, but in some cases may be possible. If you think your circumstances may fit, please give us a call to discuss further.

My partner and I jointly own a property. He moved out and I have continued paying the mortgage. Am I entitled to a greater share?

Paying the mortgage or other household expenditure does not entitle you to a greater share of the equity.

You may however be entitled to compensation for the money you have spent by way of “equitable accounting”. This allows the Court to make adjustments to the money received by each party, even where shares are fixed.

Included in equitable accounting can be payments towards the mortgage or in some cases improvements to the property, or an obligation on one party in occupation to pay occupation rent to the other party post separation.

My partner and I are splitting up. They are refusing to sell the property we own jointly. Can you help?

Yes. This is a classic case where an application can be made to the Court to order a sale of the property and for a determination as to how the proceeds of sale are to be divided.

I have separated from my partner who I have lived with for years in a property in his sole name. Am I entitled to anything?

It is possible for a person who is not the legal owner of a property but has nevertheless made certain types of contribution towards it to acquire financial interest in it. This is however, a potentially complicated situation which would turn on the facts of each case.

If you are in this situation please give us a call to discuss.

My ex-partner and I were engaged and I lived in his property. We have now split up. Am I entitled to any share of his property?

When a couple terminate their agreement to marry, property in which either or both had a beneficial interest during the engagement (including his property) is subject to the same rules as determine the rights of husbands and wives in equivalent circumstances.

This includes section 37 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act 1970 which provides that where a spouse contributes in money or money's worth to the improvement of real or personal property in which either spouse has a beneficial interest, the contributing spouse (subject to any contrary agreement) acquires a share or an enlarged share in the property.

The question will be whether you contributed in money or money’s worth to the property. Please do give us a call to discuss in further detail.

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Why Choose Myerson?

Myerson’s property litigation team are experts in cohabitation rights and property ownership disputes. We have a wide range of experience in these cases and can help you to understand your options and guide you through the process.

We can advise as to whether you may be entitled to bring a claim under TOLATA and we can assist you with any discussions and negotiations with your co-owner in order to resolve the dispute.

Myerson offers a range of funding options for claims of this nature. Our fees are fair, transparent and we are happy to discuss funding arrangements with you without obligation.

If you have any issues which you would like to discuss further, including forcing the sale of a property or want to dispute the share you believe you are entitled to, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our property litigation team on 0161 941 4000 or by emailing lawyers@myerson.co.uk.

Meet Our Specialists

Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.

Seán Hackett

Seán Hackett

Seán is a Senior Solicitor in the Property Litigation Team of our Commercial Litigation Department

Tim Norman

Tim Norman

Tim is a Senior Partner in our Commercial Litigation department

Laura Pile

Laura Pile

Laura is a Senior Solicitor in the Property Litigation Team of our Commercial Litigation Department

Emma Dooley

Emma Dooley

Emma is a Solicitor in the Property Litigation Team of our Commercial Litigation Department

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