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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33275
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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We are desperate for legal advice, thank you in advance for

Customer Question

Hi! We are desperate for legal advice , thank you in advance for help.
These are the facts.
In 1987/8 my husband Robert bought into a property with his father Derek and they became registered owners as tenants in common - agreed 50/50 equal shares. The property became two houses in one - each side in equal size. Mirror wills were made with father and son leaving their share to the other if one died.
Planning will not allow property to be sold separately (which we don't want anyway)
In 1991 I moved in with Robert . In 1994 I married Robert and we had two children.
In 1999 the three of us became tenants in common (Father in law Derek, husband Robert and I) about the same time my husband and I extended our home so now Derek's size of property is 35% to our 65% . Derek remarried, Derek made a will leaving his share of the property to Robert and I, and specified his new wife Barbara can live in the property for as long as she wishes. (She has her own property) No problems up to here, everyone was happy with this arrangement.
Over the last few years Barbara has pressurised my husband and I to agree to sell the property so Derek and her can buy a new property together that is bigger than existing.
Derek insists that the ownership is still 50% to him and my husband and I share the other 50%, even though his side is 35% in size to our 65% in size. He is pressuring us to sell wanting 40% to him - 60% to us after mortgage is paid. If we don't sell he is threatening to re-write his will leaving his "50% share to his wife." His wife has never contributed a penny to the running of the property. The mortgage is in my husband and my name, so is the electric and council tax - and paid by my husband and I.
My husband and I do not want to sell. We also do not want to lose what we feel is rightfully ours and for by us to his wife.
What are our rights?
Submitted: 23 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 23 days ago.

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

I shall 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 Mortgage

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
When it was bought in the 1980s it was worth about £12,000 . My husband gave father in law money to rebuild his side because it was a wreck... My husband helped rebuild it physically and financially...then took a mortgage out at £35,000 to build for himself. The value then was around £35,000.
Before my husband and I extended the property again (to doubled our size) in 1999 it was valued around £70,000.
It has since been valued again by 3 estate agents at between £350,000 to £435,000. An exact value can not be placed because it is "a unique property" and we have been advise by estate agents it should be marketed as a 3 bedroom detached house (my husband and my share) with a 2 bedroom granny annex.
The current mortgage is an interest only and stands at £210,000.
The mortgage is so high (to us) because when father-in-law retired in 2004 he wanted to buy property. My husband agreed to go into partnership with him. We used the equity in our home to purchase other property - which is currently not worth what we paid for them and mortgaged. My father in law couldn't cope with the pressure and left us 'holding the baby' and debt
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
the two bedroom granny annex is where father in law lives with his wife
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
my husband cannot prove he has given his father money - because we had always trusted him
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
The current valuations were in the last month
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
Can we argue that my husband and I have increased the value of the property due to size and condition?
The estate agents have described our side as modern (3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, installed multifuel stoves,) and very saleable whereas father in law has done nothing to his since the 1980's and described as dated and a good project for a buyer
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
I also have a pdf copy of the Title Register (from Land Registry) of the property if you would like to see a copy ?
Expert:  Clare replied 23 days ago.

Just to check - the amount in question is roughly £9,000 - do you still wish to consider court action?

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
Hi Clare, I don't understand where the figure of £9000 has come from? Would you please explain?
At this stage, we want to know where we stand legally..I understand my father in law cannot force us to sell our home as the 3 of us are tenants in common.
I wish to understand if he can still claim his share of the property is 50%? Taking into consideration all the above
And can he go back on our original agreement and change his will again to leave his share to his wife??Just a bit more info here - my husband and I are self employed; showing a consistent loss over the last few years - is there funding to fight this legally?
Because of this we do not want to pay out to father in law - as my husband and I cannot get a mortgage due to financial state and age.
Expert:  Clare replied 23 days ago.

The starting point is that I am afraid you are wrong.

If he wishes to force a sale of the property then he can do so by making a claim under the Trusts of Land and appointment of Trustees Act - and the application will be granted.

It woudl be useful if you could confirm the details of the agreement reached when you came onto the title in 1999?

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
All we have is this document which I have attached and a copy of the will
Expert:  Clare replied 23 days ago.

At that time do you recall if you were all to share the property equally?

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
the original agreement before I came onto the title was 50/50 between my husband and father in law. We donot know if there is any documentation to support this - my husband cannot remember - he seems to think the agreement was verbal. When I came onto the title we do not know if there was any documentation drawn up. The agreement was the property would revert to my husband and I on father in laws death
Customer: replied 23 days ago.
as per father in law's Will dated 2001
Expert:  Clare replied 23 days ago.

Ok

As I said if your father in law choses to apply to the Court for an Order for sale then it will be granted.

With regard to how the shares would be divided between you that is harder to assess

It is clear that it started at 50/50 between your husband and his father.

Equally it is clear that you brought no capital to the property when you were joined onto the title.

That being the case it will be for the court to decide what the division should be

The work that you have done extending and improving the property will be useful - but there will no doubt be various valuations required.

The fact that the Will allowed for the property to pass to you and your husband is not relevant given his remarriage I am afraid

The £9,000 represents very roughly the difference between 35% and 40 % of the equity.

It is always important to be clear about what you are actually arguing over in cash terms

I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
My father in laws will was written after his marriage to his current wife. The will specifies she can stay in the property for as long as she wishes as long as she pays for the upkeep. My husband and I do not have a problem with this (even though she has property of her own!) Does this not prove that father in law intended the property to be ours upon his death???
Applying to the courts to force us to sell would be very expensive and complicated for him??
Expert:  Clare replied 23 days ago.

He is entitled to change his mind about the Will I am afraid.

It could be costly - but he can ask the court to order that you and your husband meet his costs

A solicitor will take between six and nine months to obtain the order for sale

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