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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33310
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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I live in a property with a joint mortgage with my ex

Customer Question

I live in a property with a joint mortgage with my ex partner. She moved out of the property in Feb 2011. She had never contributed to the mortgage payments for the previous 20 years we lived together. I originally owned a property and soon after we met in 1989 she moved in with her then 4 year old daughter. We also have a daughter born in 1998. Soon after she moved in I remortgaged to pay for home improvements but it became a joint mortgage as her salary was used as a calculator. As well as never contributing to mortgage and most household bills when living together she has not paid anything towards the mortgage since she moved out in 2011. I pay her £240 per month maintenance for our 16 year old daughter. They live in rented accommodation. I have always maintained mortgage & household bills. We moved to current property in 2000 after 10 years in negative equity in the flat. I cashed in an endowment policy £11000 in my name only to pay the deposit.The mortgage is now interest only and due to expire in 5 years time. My plan is to sell the property before this date and use it to invest in a property that will eventually be passed on to my daughter.I was made redundant in March this year and currently survive on my work pension. Due to the high mortgage I am unable to buy her out or take over the mortgage. I agreed with her a few months ago to pay her £15000 via a Declaration of Trust so that I gain the equity when the property is sold. I have already given her £2500. From my pension lump sum I have already spent £22000 on much needed home improvements. She is not aware of this as she never visits the house. My aim was to improve the equity for when I sell the property. She contacted me last week to say she has now spoken to a solicitor who said a Declaration of Trust would not be in her interest and that she could either force the sale of the house; charge me rent for still living here; or force me out and move back in (even though there is no history of violence, ill treatment etc). Could you please advise where I currently stand in this situation and if there is any way I can protect the investment I have already put into the property. Also if the declaration of trust does not go ahead how I can get back the £2500 I paid her in lieu of the agreement - she says she has not got the money. She is full-time employment and has a new partner. Thank you

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
How much is the house worth and how much is outstanding on the mortage?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Good afternoon Clare,

The current mortgage is £189,000.

I had the property valued in June and the valuation from two independent estate agents was in the region of £275,000.

Since then I have had a new bathroom, new kitchen, new windows and porch and garden decking installed.

Regards

Bill

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
How much did that work enhance the value of the property?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello, I do not know as I have not had the property valued since the works were undertaken but as they are important areas ie windows, kitchen and bathroom I would like to think the value should increase by at least the amount invested £23000. At the time of the valuations the estate agent told me a similar sized property nearby on very good decorative condition had sold for £299000.

regards

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Just to check - is the mortgage an Interest only mortgage or a repayment mortgage?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It is interest only

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
How did you come up with the figure of £15,000?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It was her figure! She acknowledged that she never contributed to the mortgage repayments, council tax and utility bills. I even bought most of the shopping too. We had led separate lives under the same roof for several years. My daughter knew was aware of the situation as we had separate rooms etc but was happy with the status quo. She was devastated when her Mother took the decision to move into rented accommodation without any prior warning to myself or her. I had never missed or been late with a mortgage payment but we had both got into serious debt over the years with credit cards, but unfortunately they were all in my name. It cost me my redundancy payment and a large part of my pension sum to settle all the debts earlier this year. She was in denial that they were her debts too, always pleaded poverty but she was still able to take 3 holidays per year for herself for several years up when she moved out in 2011. She wanted to come off the mortgage but I was unable to buy her out or take over the mortgage. Knowing I had been made redundant, she wanted a pay off on the proviso that any future property I owned or funds as a consequence of property would be left to our daughter which is what I always intended to do any way. My plan was to upgrade the present property to make it a home again for my daughter. I would then sell the property before the mortgage expiry in 5 years time and would hopefully have sufficient equity to buy a property outright which would eventually be left wholly to our daughter upon my death. As I explained to her last week if she pushes for a sale now she may gain an extra £15000 - £20,000 for herself, but I would have to move further away i.e. outside of London, and my equity share would be spent on rented accommodation leaving nothing for my daughter. At present I live*****from my daughter who I see on a very regular basis. However she will not stay at the house because of the work that is required on it, but I know she would once all the works have been completed, more so because she does not like her Mother's new partner. In the meantime she spends a lot of time at her half sisters house. Only a few a weeks ago my ex partner said I did not need to have a declaration of trust as she would not contest anything if the house was sold in the future.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What were the debts actually used for and how much were they?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Too numerous to remember now but they were mainly credit cards - paid for holidays abroad when we were together e.g pre 2006: shopping, cash, clothes etc. I had a secondary employment from 1992 to 2002 to ensure mortgage and other commitments were paid each month. When I got made redundant from that in 2002 it put more financial pressure on me, again without any financial assistance from her. By the time I sought help in 2006 from CCS the debts were approx. £50,000. I entered into a payment arrangement with them for £500 per month. I had a consolidation loan for £5000 with Natwest in 2003. They took me to court and put a charging order on the property in my name only - amount owed to them was £22000. I repaid £150 per month to them. I settled all debts with creditors this year and the charging order was removed.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I do need to check - you were never married?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No never married to each other

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
HI
I am afraid that the news is not good.
She has clearly taken legal advice and has been told that she is entitled to half of the equity.
She has also been told that the fact that she has not paid the mortgage is not relevant - since whilst you were together she had the child care and after you separated you had the privilege of living there
She has also been told that she can force a sale - easily - and that technically she could try and force you to let her and the child live there (without you) until the child is 16 - although frankly that is an application she would be highly unlikely to win
You shoudl also be able to protect the extra capital which comes form the work that you have had done
Your only hope is to try and negotiate with your ex using Family mediation
www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk
I am sorry to give such band news - but it is important that I do not mislead you
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

re her forcing me out so she and my daughter could live here. I had previously informed you that my daughter is already 16. Does this mean this is an option she cannot enforce ?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

How would I be able to protect my home improvements investment should she force the sale of the property?

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Technically you have a duty to help house the child until the child is 18 - but as I said I do not believe a court would grant the application after all this time - especially given your daughter's age
In terms of the money that you have spent make sure you have all the receipts - and when the property is valued ask for the valuation to be with and without the improvements
Clare

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