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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34885
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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My husband and I hold a property as joint tenants. He's an

Customer Question

My husband and I hold a property as joint tenants. He's an alcoholic but currently has been sober for several months and is of sound mind. He's agreed to transfer full title to me in case he relapses, as there's no telling what he might do then, and he knows we need the house / equity to be safeguarded. There's still a mortgage on the property in joint names, but as he hasn't worked for four years all the payments since then have been made by me.
What do we need to do? Should we just make an appointment with a solicitor or do we need to contact the mortgage company first? If so, do we need to give them a reason for our decision and are they likely to object?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
May I ask what you are worried he will do that would endanger the ownership of the house?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Clare

When he's at his worst he's unrecognisable and loses sight of all sense and reason. He disappears for months on end and spends a huge amount of money, mainly on cigarettes, alcohol and accomodation in hotels. Thousands of pounds of our savings have already been wasted in this way. The last time he was 'away with the fairies' he told me I'd have to sell the house and meant it - he had a fantasy about travelling abroad indefinitely, so he wanted half of the equity to do that. Later, he was in such a state he was picked up by social services - I was then told again I'd have to sell the house so he could pay for accomodation, as he wasn't eligible for any benefits. Following a detox, he then wanted to come back here, as usual, because he actually wants to live normally here, with his family, in the longer term - its the addiction that's causing the problem.

When sober he knows it would be crazy to spend money needlessly selling this house and buying other property and madness to allow him access to funds from the equity tied up here - he'd squander it or give it all away to hangers-on. He knows the sensible thing to do is for me to keep it protected for us (and later for our adult children). He'll tell a solicitor this himself (without me being present) as he isn't under duress.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
How much is the house worth and how much is outstanding on the mortgage?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Worth around £450k and the mortgage is about £70k.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
How long have you lived together and are there any children involved?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Married for 33 years. Two adult children, one a student who lives here outside term time.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
You would need the permission of the Mortgage Company and they would have to agree to release your husband from the mortgage before any such Transfer could take place
Of more concern is that I cannot see any benefit to you in doing this.
As things stand there is nothing he can do to endanger the equity unless he starts divorce proceedings and forces the sale of the house.
If he does that then it does not matter who legally "owns" the house he will still be entitled to a 50/50 share of the equity.
I am sorry - I know that it is not good news - and if you feel that it will give an extra layer of protection then there is no reason not to go ahead with it - but you do need to be aware of the limitations
Please ask if you need further details