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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 7434
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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I bought a flat a few years back with a friend called Sarah

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I bought a flat a few years back with a friend called Sarah we went 50/50 to get on the property ladder after 2 years I met a girl (Lucy) and we got a loan of £25000 to buy out Sarah of her share and put Lucy on the flats mortgage as a joint owner. We have since moved into a 3 bed semi detached property which my parents lent me an additional £10000 to combine with the profit from the flat to buy the house and an additional £7000 of my own money. Again Lucy is joint owner on the paperwork and has paid half the mortgage since she first moved in but didn't put any of her own money into buying the flat or the house. As you have probably guessed we are now splitting up and she feels she is entitled to 50% of anything made when the house is sold as she is joint owner on the paperwork. I would like to know is this correct and it is a black and whit 50/50 split or if I have any legal rights to a greater share or a leg to stand on. Many thanks for your response, Dan

Do you now own one property which you refer to in the second sentence of your question?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

yes we sold the original flat to purchase the house which we now live in and will have to sell or buy one or other of us out


Ok. Did you execute a Declaration of Trust stating the extent of your interest (perhaps by reference to percentage shares) when you purchase this property?

Were you advised of this as an option by your purchasing solicitor?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

no we are joint owners on the property


Were you advised of your option to do this by your solicitor, or advised that you could hold your interest as "tenants in common" as opposed to holding as "joint tenants"?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

to be honest I don't remember but as I wasn't planning on ever splitting up I think we agreed on joint ownership


Are there any children of the relationship?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No no children

Drafting your answer now. 5 mins.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you

Hi Dan,
Thanks for your patience.

Sorry to say, but this answer may not be the one you were looking for.

First of all, if you and you partner presently hold the house jointly (as joint tenants) then each person's share would pass to the other upon death regardless of any directon made in any Will. If this is not what you want then you should sever the joint tenancy by using Form SEV from the Land Registry (you will have to send it to them and if you have any questions about completing the form you should call their customer service number - they are very helpful):-

You will then hold you interests as tenants in common, meaning that your respective shares will pass according to their wills or under the intestacy rules. Your partner need not sign the form provided you follow the instructions.

In the absence of any express agreement there is presumption that the proceeds of sale are split equally, this is the presumption that you may end up litigating has been rebutted by your conduct and contributions in purchasing and financing the property. Thus she is correct in saying that (unless you litigate to enforce otherwise) as things stand she is presumed to be entitled to a 50/50 split.

If either party contributed more the financing of the purchase or has maintained the majority of the mortgage then this may be taken in to account and they will receive more of the proceeds of sale but you have to prove this by litigating under a particular piece of legislation and would have to incur legal fees.

It’s really a not great position to be in. A declaration of trust would have solved this. You need to check if you advise of your option to hold as Tenants in Common and getting a declaration of trust when you purchased. You may have a claim against your solicitor if you were not so advised.

However, that is not to say that you cannot now posture that you will litigate in order to have an unequal division of equity recognised. She may then negotiate. The legal fees can be between £1000 to £10,000 + Vat and upwards so there is motivation there for you to negotiate and perhaps for her as well. You would have to pay your fees privately and may not be able to claim any costs from her for this.

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Kind regards,

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