Is my ex-partner’s house now my ex-house or am I entitled to more?
The breakdown of a relationship is a difficult process at the best of times, not least when you both own the house that you shared together and are unsure of your legal standing. In the midst of a post-lockdown flurry of separations, the rights concerned with homeownership following that split is an area of uncertainty for many. During my time at Enoch Evans LLP, I have assisted many clients by helping to provide clarity and clear guidance regarding this contested area of law.
The Starting Point
The starting point as to whether you are entitled to any equity within the property you used to live in before a separation is, unless you are the legal owner, you are not entitled to anything. But what if you made financial contributions to the property or if it was intended that you gain an interest in the property? You may then be beneficially entitled to your fair share.
One recent example
During a recent case involving a client who was anxious over their housing situation after moving out of a home they had purchased with an ex-partner, I was able to able to achieve an agreement between the parties. Because the client moved out and was still paying 50% of the monthly mortgage repayments, an agreement was achieved whereby the client's ex-partner was to purchase the client's 50% share of the house and would pay the entirety of the mortgage in the intervening months.
This outcome in this case was possible due to the client's strong legal position granted by the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA), which governs the creation of trusts in the context of land and property. Trusts of this nature do not need to be agreed in a formal manner, it is possible for these to exist informally. Matters like this can often be resolved through negotiation, however should cases concerning this area of law proceed to Court and be successful, it would be necessary to show that you intended to gain an interest in the property and that you have suffered some form of detriment in reliance of the agreement.
In my client's case, I pointed out to their ex-partner that if an agreement could not be reached, I would be advising to issue Court proceedings where we would seek to enforce the sale of the property, which was in neither parties' interests.
The client gave wonderful feedback on our help. They said: "I'd like to add how you have kept me informed at every stage, I've felt supported and fully knowledgeable on what is going on, and also you have literally changed my life by helping me with this process (no exaggeration!). Thank you again, I would not hesitate to use/recommend you in the future."
My best advice
Undoubtably, this is a sensitive and difficult position for people to be in but I encourage anyone who finds themself in a dispute over property to seek legal advice to best protect their position.
Is this you? If so, please contact me or another member of our team at Enoch Evans LLP, who will be happy to discuss your matter with you. The contact numbers to use are 01922 720333 (Walsall Office) or 0121 355 2336 (Sutton Coldfield Office).
Who am I?
My name is Selica Khan and I joined Enoch Evans in July 2019. Having obtained a law degree at the University of Birmingham, my career has involved working at three large legal 100 firms based in Birmingham. I now work in the Civil Litigation Department specialising in civil disputes for private individuals.
My work involves:
• Contractual disputes
• Property disputes including ownership, boundaries and rights of way issues
• Residential landlord and tenant disputes
• Consumer disputes
• Debt recovery and personal insolvency
• Contested Probate
Outside of work, I have two young children which leaves very little spare time for the hobbies and interests I once enjoyed! I love spending time with my family on days out, travelling, afternoon teas and spa days.