Joint Property Ownership Disputes Couple Arguing
Do you have a property dispute?
We offer a variety agreements for joint owners looking to protect their interest in a property. We can even help if there is now a dispute.

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Joint Property Ownership Disputes

29/07/2022
14
5 min read
Disputes can arise between joint owners of property and the most common issues are:

  • I am owed money from the property
  • I want to sell the property

The process of splitting a jointly owned property varies depending on your relationship, your original intentions for the property ownership and how much your contributed toward the property.

Scenario 1: Unmarried Joint Tenants
Joint tenancy disputes are more complicated because when the property was bought, or the owner added someone to the title, then it was agreed between the parties to hold the property as Joint Tenants.

As the property is undivided, meaning the joint tenants own 100% of the property together, then if any of the joint owners dies, the surviving joint tenants continue to own the property 100%.

If there is a dispute then the joint owners need to sever the joint tenancy and state what each of their individual share of the property is and confirm this within a Settlement Agreement to avoid any future claim to the property.

Can I just sever the joint tenancy
When you sever the joint tenancy you need to state what the beneficial interest split is with the property. If you sever without agreeing what this share is then you could be left with a lengthy legal dispute whilst each party stakes their claim.

However, if you were to die your share of the property would remain with the other joint owner until you sever the joint tenancy or until you sever in practice. The latter would need to be proved with the help of a TOLATA dispute solicitor.


Scenario 2: Unmarried Tenants in Common with no written document
Where you state your joint ownership is tenants in common then it means you own a share in a property. This share is stated within the TR1 when you purchased/transferred. You'll have stated it is either shared equally IE 50:50 or there is a deed.

If there is a property dispute then go back to your solicitor and get a copy of the TR1 and see what you stated your ownership structure was.

Scenario 3: Unmarried Tenants in Common with a deed of trust
A deed of trust is a legal agreement signed by the joint owners either at the outset or during their ownership of the property.

The deed should contain clauses confirming the beneficial interest the joint owners have in the property and how they can sell the property in the future. There are other documents which could be used such as a Cohabitation Agreement which covers how you live in the property together or a floating deed of trust that caters for your beneficial interest going up the more you pay towards the property.

Ownership disputes are less common when the the intentions of the owners have been pre-agreed and documented in a deed.

Scenario 4: Married (post marital asset)
Whether you are joint tenants or tenants in common, if you were engaged or married at the time of the purchase then this is a post marital asset that will fall under the divorce settlement/legal separation.

Joint property ownership disputes are always more complex when you are married as you can't quickly sell you interest in the property, or if you did then you'd need to pre-agree the share which should be 50:50 - unless there are other factors such as children.

Scenario 5: Married (pre-marital asset)
It will be decided as part of the divorce settlement, however a pre-marital home will often remain with the original owner.

I own 50% of a property what are my rights?

A beneficial owner of a property has the rights to:
  • reside or live in the property
  • 50% of the proceeds of sale
  • 50% of any rental income
  • The right to sell as long as it is the joint decision of the owners or there is an order for sale

It is advisable to set out that you own 50% of the property in a Deed of Trust. We can help with this so call us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges).


Frequently Asked Questions

Where one party wants to sell and another doesn't then there is a legal process to follow to force the sale.

There are occasions where an order for sale won't be granted and we cover this here >> How can I force the sale of a jointly owned property?.

You do not have to be named on the legal title or the mortgage for you to have a beneficial share of the property.

The vast majority of joint property ownership disputes arise where one of the owners has contributed towards the property and they expected to get a share of the property on sale.

If you contributed paying money towards the property and it was your intention for this to give you a beneficial interest in the property then the legal owner holds the property on trust because a constructive trust has been created. Read more >> Constructive Trust - How to prove an implied or express agreement.

Whoever is named on the mortgage is jointly liable to repay it no matter how much equity they own in the property. Failing to pay will effect your credit rating and could mean the property is repossessed.



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