Splitting up with partner? Are you due money from the property?

7 min read
Splitting up with your partner is a difficult situation which can be worsened if there is a dispute about whether you are due money from the property you've lived in together. If like many joint owners you didn't put anything in writing and based your joint ownership arrangement on trust then you may have an argument on your hands - but don't be put off because you could be due £1,000s from the sale of the property you shared with your ex-partner.

Are you due money from the property?

Many think that because they aren't registered as the legal owner of the property that they aren't due any share of it, however this is simply not true. Yes, that's right, you can still own a share of the property if you're not a registered Legal Owner because you could in fact be an unregistered beneficial owner. As a beneficial owner you could be due a share of the property so don't be fooled into thinking that if your name's not on the title, you're not owed anything.

This article will examine 3 scenarios where you may actually own a share of the property (and therefore, for example, be owed some money on sale) even though you aren't a registered owner of the property.

Are you splitting up with your partner and need help getting your share of the property? Call our joint ownership dispute specialists on 0333 344 3234

Example 1: Contribution Towards the Purchase Price

The first answer to the question "What am I entitled to?" in terms of your property when splitting up comes from considering what you contributed towards the purchase of the property. Not the costs such as solicitors fees, broker charges and surveys but the actual purchase price. If you did, then you own a share of the property regardless of whether your name is on its title or not and normally this share is calculated by dividing what you contributed towards the purchase price by the total sum of money contributed towards the purchase price.

A real life example of this was in the court case between Tinsley v Milligan where a couple purchased a house in the sole name of Tinsley for £29,000. £24,000 was raised from a mortgage in the sole name of Tinsley with the remaining £5,000 being raised from the sale of a car that they owned jointly. Because the £5,000 came from both Tinsley and Milligan, 50:50, the Judge ruled that Milligan owned half a share in the property.

This means that if you paid an amount of money towards the purchase price and you didn't agree anything else to the contrary (such as a gift or a declaration of trust) then you own a share of the property whether you are registered as a legal owner or not.

Does this apply to you? Are you due money from the property? Are you being told you are due nothing? Call our joint ownership specialists and let us help you - 0333 344 3234

Example 2: Contribution to Mortgage Repayments

The second answer to the question "What am I entitled to?" concerns mortgage repayments. There are two ways to view your contribution towards the mortgage repayments and these depend on if you have a prior agreement to pay the mortgage at the point of buying the property or if you step in at a later date to support mortgage repayments.

Agreement when property purchased 

If you had an agreement in place when you purchased the property jointly that you'd contribute towards the mortgage repayments then subsequently made the payments promptly and in full and kept records of them, this gives you a much stronger claim for a share of ownership latterly if you end up splitting up with your partner and you have to go to court.

A real life example of this was in the court case Cowcher v Cowcher where a house was purchased for £24,000. Cowcher A provided £8,000 of their own money and the remaining £16,000 was funded by a mortgage taken out in the name of Cowcher B. The Judge ruled that Cowcher A contributed £8,000, plus half the mortgage of £16,000 (£8,000), meaning that Cowcher A owned £16,000 of the £24,000 - two-thirds of the property.

Contribution towards mortgage repayments after purchase 

This is harder to evidence, however it is the category most people will fall into. Imagine a boyfriend buys a property, then at a later date his girlfriend moves in. They both agreed to share the mortgage Contribution-Towards-Mortgage-Repayments.jpg repayments however after a 2 years they break up and she moves out. The girlfriend doesn't have a clear ownership right because she didn't have an agreement with the boyfriend to pay the mortgage repayments at the point he purchased the property. This doesn't however mean that she doesn't own a share of the property.

In fact, the girlfriend can argue that the boyfriend and she had an implied common intention to share the ownership of the property. If the girlfriend can demonstrate this intention to share the ownership then she could be entitled to a share of the property through a beneficial interest. The calculation for this could be far in excess of the exact mathematical equivalent of her contributions.

TIP : The best way to demonstrate that you had a common intention to share the ownership of the property and directly contribute towards mortgage repayments is to: 

• show evidence of the payments made listed in a document;
• provide copies of your bank statement showing payments; and
• any documented evidence stating that this was the arrangement from the point when you moved in together.

Example 3: Contribution to the cost of repairs or renovation

The third answer to the question "Are you due money from the property?" concerns how any repairs or renovations were paid for. If you contributed towards repairs or renovation to the property and the property increased in value, then you could be entitled to a share of any increase in the property's value that was attributable to your contribution.

As an example, let us assume Jane & Jim live in a home worth £100,000 that Jim was the only registered owner of. They agree to build an extension which increases the property's value to £150,000, however Jim has no money to pay for the extension so Jane pays the £30,000 it costs to complete the extension.

In this example Jane would own a beneficial interest in the property to the value of £50,000 which is the difference between the property's price without the improvements and with the improvements.

NOTE: Repairs and renovations such as painting, new carpets, curtains or even a new kitchen would not count. Think more along the lines of extensions and conversions.

Was it a gift?

There may be circumstances where the money paid by you was a gift, or could be viewed as one. It is important to note that if you provided any payments as gifts then these payments do not count towards any claim you make to share of ownership.

Think before you pay any money into a property your don't own

The best advice is if you are paying money towards the property, always make surethis is documented. Clever couples spend the time at the outset to make sure they are individually protected and see their sharing of payments as an investment into a jointly shared property. In this situation, there's no need to ask "Are you due money from the property?"; you'll have planned for this possible outcome already.

We provide legal agreements for joint owners that clearly state the structure of the legal ownership of the property and cover all 3 of the above examples to protect the interests of both legal owners and beneficial owners. Our legal agreement is called Shared Ownership Protection and can be created at the point you purchase, or at any time during the ownership of the property.

We also provide support during disputes when you split from your partner and want to establish who owns the property. Our specialists can provide support and we have solicitors on hand should you not be able to come to an agreement which satisfies both parties.

For more information please call us on 0333 344 3234 or click to read more about Shared Ownership Protection

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