What are my property rights when separating from my partner?

I’m separating from my partner and there is a dispute over who owns our property – what are my legal rights?

Solicitor Sarah Coombs look at your property rights when separating from your partner.

The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (known as TOLATA) provides the courts with certain powers to resolve disputes between unmarried cohabitants relating to the ownership of their property.

When considering your position it is important to start by establishing how the property is legally owned. TOLATA may be used to establish that you own part of the property, even if your name is not actually on the registered title.

In these cases the court can order the registered legal owner to hold that property on trust for you, as what is known as a beneficial owner. It can also give you the right to occupy the property, or to receive a lump sum when it is sold.

When bringing a claim under TOLATA it is helpful if you can prove there was an intention between yourself and your partner to share ownership of the property. It also helps if you can provide evidence of any payments you have made for work to be carried out to the property, or any contributions you made to the purchase price or the mortgage.

If the property is co-owned by you and your partner then it is important to establish whether you are joint tenants or tenants in common as this will be relevant when deciding what share you will be entitled to. A joint tenancy means that the co-owners own the whole title together.  If a property is co-owned by a couple as tenants in common then each co-owner owns a defined percentage share of the title, which is generally set out when the property was purchased.

It should be clear from the property register whether a property is co-owned as a joint tenants or tenants in common. If it is not, the purchase documentation will normally confirm how the property is co-owned.

You can read here a case study of how we successfully recovered a client’s 50% share of a property that was held in the sole name of his ex-partner after making a TOLATA claim.

If you are separating from your partner and a dispute has arisen over the ownership of your property, then you can contact our helpline and speak to one of our specialists.

Call us on 0333 888 0407, use this form to request a free consultation, or send an email to us at [email protected]

What are my property rights when separating from my partner?