Do you have a dispute about a property you live in with a partner, to whom you are not married? 

Then please read below and then contact a member of our Family Law team for further advice.

Do I have a financial claim against the property?

If the property is owned and registered in your joint names at the Land Registry, then yes, you have a claim, despite what you may have paid towards the bills and the property during the relationship.

If the property is owned and registered only in your partner’s name, you would only have a claim if one of the following applied:

  • You paid towards the initial purchase price, i.e. the deposit.
  • You have a written agreement to say that although the property is not registered in your name , you still own a share.
  • You have contributed substantially to the value of the property, for example, making significant payments to the mortgage or paying for an extension or renovations, which added significant value to the property.

If you do not have a written agreement and have not added to the property value, you would only have a claim against the property owned in your partner’s sole name if you had a verbal agreement that you would have an interest and you acted to your detriment based on that agreement.  Acting to your detriment would include paying significantly to other bills, allowing the owner to pay the mortgage, giving up your home to move in, having children and contributing by way of childcare.  It can be very difficult to make a claim based on a verbal agreement alone, as the your partner may deny this agreement ever existed and it is hard to prove.

This is why we do strongly recommend to all of our clients, that if they are moving into their partner’s home that the partner already owns, and where they intend to significantly contribute to the mortgage or renovations, that they have an official agreement drafted to ensure both parties know exactly what share of the assets they would walk away with should they unfortunately separate.

What is my entitlement in the property?

If you own the property in joint names, you probably put down in writing when you purchased what your shares would be.  You may have agreed to own as “joint tenants”, which means you own the house equally.

You may have agreed to own as “tenants in common”, meaning you own different shares, such as 60 % / 40% for example. Such a written declaration would normally be binding on you both. You could only ask for more in limited circumstances, for example, if one of you paid large amounts into the property after separation.

If you have a written agreement setting out your shares, such as a Cohabitation Agreement, this would be binding on you both.

If you do not have a written agreement setting out your shares, but have an interest in the house, because of the reasons above and you cannot agree, then the Court may have to decide your share  The Court would have regard to the whole course of dealing between you in your Relationship.  For example, what you discussed about your ownership, who paid what, who cared for the children? Did you keep your finances separate or were they mixed?  The Court would then decide your shares in the property based on what was fair.

Do I have an entitlement if I paid towards household bills?

No. Payments to household bills and expenses alone, such as council tax, utilities, food, gardening, furniture, decoration, holidays, will not give you an interest in a property owned in your partner’s sole name.

How do I resolve matters?

Please contact a member of our Family Law team who will be able to advise you.

We would firstly start by negotiating with your ex-partner or their solicitors about what you should get from the property and when. We can also arrange Mediation for you and support you through that process. If Mediation fails to help you both reach an agreement, we will support you in making an application to the Court to decide what should happen to the property.

What can the Court Order?

  • The Court can declare what your shares in the property should be.
  • The Court can say that one owner can keep the property and buy out the other’s share.
  • The Court can Order an instant sale of the property.
  • The Court can Order a delayed sale, in limited circumstances, for example if the property was home to children.

What to do next?

Please call our Family Law Team on 01623 468 468 (let the receptionist know which office you prefer) or use the enquiry form below to book an initial consultation so we can see how we can help you.

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