Joint Ownership Disputes and "TOLATA" Claims


Rising property prices have fuelled rather than quelled our innate desire to get a foot on, and then climb, the “property ladder”. Whilst many follow the traditional route of saving for a big enough deposit to take that first step others of us are finding more innovative ways to take our first steps.

Frequently unmarried couples but together or friends ‘club together’ and in either circumstance the “bank of Mum and Dad” might provide some support. Alternatively, siblings might inherit a property under a Will.

The reasons behind this growing trend are many and varied but all joint ownerships come with the potential for complex disagreements in future years. 

A dispute may arise when the relationship between joint owners breaks down or when one joint owner wants to sell the property and the other does not want to sell or if they cannot agree the value or size of their shares.

If agreement cannot be reached, a stalemate can arise which may go on for many years, preventing the owners from realising the value of their shares and being able to move on.

Where the joint owners of property cannot agree, any one of them may apply to the Court to resolve the situation.

Applications are made to the Court under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). The Court has wide discretion under TOLATA and can make an order that the property be sold and/or an order that one party living in the property pays the other owner rent.

However, there is no guarantee the Court will make such orders where they are applied for.  The Court will take a range of factors into account when deciding whether to make them, such as:

  • the intentions of the parties at the time the property was purchased
  • the purpose for which the property is owned
  • the parties’ shares in the ownership of the property

We can advise you as to whether you may be entitled to bring a claim under TOLATA and we can assist you with any discussions and negotiations with your co-owner in order to resolve the dispute. We will always try to find the best, most sensitive and cost-effective way of resolving your situation. 

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