Property Ownership Disputes: what happens when it all goes wrong?

On the breakdown of a relationship between cohabitees, family members, business partners, or friends, disputes over jointly owned property will often arise, particularly where there is no Living Together Agreement or Declaration of Trust in place.

The law in this area is particularly complex and when disputes arise specialist legal advice should be sort.

For cohabitees, many believe that remaining unmarried will make dividing any assets simpler, should the relationship breakdown.

Unfortunately this is often not the case, as there is no statutory framework as to how assets are to be divided between cohabitees as there is in the event of divorce.

In the event of other relationship breakdowns between family members, business partners, or friends, disputes may range from who is entitled to the equity, to whether the property should be sold at all.

In a dispute over a property, there are many factors that may be taken into account including whether the property is owned jointly, whether one party’s actions alter the presumption that the property is owned equally and direct or indirect contributions to an asset owned in one party’s sole name.

The Courts are given powers to resolve such disputes through The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (ToLATA), commonly referred to as ‘ToLATA’ claims.

The main types of application made under ToLATA are to decide who is entitled to occupy the property and to decide the extent of the ownership of the property.

As with any litigation, a ToLATA claim can be both stressful and expensive and legal advice should be sought as soon as possible.

If you need help in relation to a property dispute please contact Oliver-James Topping on 01473 229206, or oliver-james.topping@attwells.com , who will be happy to assist.