How To Sell a House When One Partner Refuses

Caragh Bailey
13/05/2021
8,387
4 min read
The break down of a relationship is hard enough to go through as it is, but it's so much harder when you're bound together by property ownership. What can you do when you want to sell your house, but your partner doesn't? There are a few ways to sell a house when one partner refuses, some easier than others. Your options will depend on whether you are joint tenants or tenants in common and on whether you're married, or civil partners. We'll explain your options below.

How to sell a house when one partner refuses and you're married or civil partners

Where only one of you is on the title deed, the owner has the right to stay in the property, but they cannot force the other to move out. The non owner, referred to by the family court as a 'non-entitled' spouse has the right to continue to live in the property along with any children, even if the property is sold to a third party.

If the owner wants to remove the non-owner, they would have to get the non-owners consent. However, if the non-owner withholds consent unreasonably, the court will dispense with their consent.

If you need to remove your partner from your house you would have to raise a court action and seek an exclusion order - These are only granted to protect you or a child of the family from threats or misconduct by the removed party.

If you are getting divorced, you will need to wait until you've reached a divorce settlement, to find out how much of your home the family courts will award you. (This is likely to be easier if you're tenants in common and have a Deed of Trust already in place). Otherwise, you could agree a fair price for your share between yourselves. 

Your partner can buy your share through a Transfer of Equity, subject to lender consent. You will need independent legal advice from a solicitor for this transaction

The next step would be to force a sale, which will depend on whether you are joint tenants or tenants in common.

How to sell a house when one partner refuses and you're joint tenants

You can ask your partner to buy you out, as we'll explain below. However, you can't force a sale. You will have to sever your joint tenancy first and register as tenants in common.

How to sell a house when one partner refuses and you're tenants in common

If your partner refuses to sell the house and refuses or is unable to buy you out, you can force a sale. Be warned though, this can take a long time and become very expensive.

How to Sell a House When One Partner Refuses from SAM Conveyancing: A woman with a stern expression looks directly into the camera with her arms folded

    1
    Ask your partner to buy you out
Unless your partner has a lot of free cash they will probably need to borrow the funds to buy you out. Your partner buys your share of the property and takes over your share of the mortgage at the same time. Your name is removed from the title deed by a transfer of equity, with your partner either remortgaging the property or using a product transfer, where they can keep the same lender.

This additional borrowing will be means tested as with any mortgage. If your partner is deemed unable to maintain the extra debt they will not be able to borrow the money to buy you out. In order to release your equity in the property you may have to force a sale.

    2
    Force a sale
You must be tenants in common to force a sale. If you are joint tenants you'll need to sever your joint tenancy first and register as tenants in common. You can do this without your partners cooperation. Click here to read how.

You can apply to the court for an 'order of sale'. They may:
  • refuse a sale
  • refuse a sale but make an order regulating the right to occupy the property
  • Order a sale
  • Order a sale but suspend the order for a short period; and
  • but suspend the order for a short period; and

Their decision will be based on:
  • Yours and your partner's original intentions for buying the property.
  • The welfare of any children who live with you
  • The interests of any secured creditors (such as your mortgage lender) or beneficiaries

Learn about forcing a sale here

Do you need help to sell a house when one partner refuses?

When buying property with anyone else, or just sharing your home with other adults, it is essential to set out your legal and beneficial shares using the proper legal documents. This can save you from financial loss and bitter disputes down the line.

Sam Conveyancing can set you up with solicitors to assist with:
  • Working out your beneficial interest
  • Pre-action negotiations
  • Application to court
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Mediation
  • Court appearance

We have on hand counsel to support your claim and offer guidance along the way.

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