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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35063
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 have split up with my ex partner. We have a joint mortgage

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I have split up with my ex partner. We have a joint mortgage on the house which he claims is his as I have no equity in the house (it was his and his ex wife's). I had to move out as the mental cruelty was too much to take any more. I signed a commercial agreement about the property which means that I only get a 21% profit on a sale over and above the agreed amount at the time we signed (£520K in 2008). The agreement also states I should pay the equivalent loss if the house is sold below that amount. Stupid to have signed it, but that is done now.
I've moved out, and after 7 months have had to stop paying my share of the mortgage as I simply can't afford it. We also have a joint timeshare, so with his suggestion and agreement, he stopped paying the timeshare amount and I stopped paying the mortgage - I gained enough to make it worth while to do.
However I really want to get my name off the mortgage and deeds, so I am clear of the man. I've been told I could force the sale of the house, but am unsure how I could do this and how it leaves me financially. Should I write to the mortgage company and tell them what has happened and that I can no longer afford to pay? There is more than enough equity in the house to pay the mortgage off if it was sold - mortgage is £228K. House has been on the market for over 7 years with only one sensible close offer of £480K which my ex refused to take. I took advice from a solicitor about the agreement and was told I would have to test it with a barrister to see if it could be broken - the solicitor reckoned it was pretty tight. I was looking at around £3K just to test that. I can't afford that. Any suggestions gratefully received. Thank you.
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Did you have legal advice at the time the Agreement was signed?
What does the agreement say about forcing a sale?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello ClareThank you for your reply. No I did not have legal advice at the time of signing the agreement - very stupid of me. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. The agreement is a 'Joint Development Agreement', and not a domestic agreement. I can send a copy if you wish? Just need to scan it.I have checked the agreement and there is clause under Notice to Sell which states as follows:"After the sixth month anniversary of the singing of this agreement, either party may force the sale of the Property by giving the other party a notice of their intention to sell.
The other party receiving the sale notice shall then be obliged to agree to a sale or shall the option to purchase the Property from the other party at the then current open market value."There is also a proportional percentage split of profit/loss depending on what it sold for. When I moved out I was more of less told that if I made no 'difficulties' the percentage loss would not be invoked, but if I was awkward then it would be. Since I didn't want to be in the position of having to pay 1000s to him in a loss I have so far made no waves. I paid the mortgage even for a further 7 months as I stated, but enough is enough. Another woman has moved in and I am not paying for someone else to have the benefits.
Please let me know if you wish me to send you the copy of the agreement? Thanks.
That would be helpful
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
File attached - I hope?
What work had to be done on the property?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Not much more than redecorating initially, but after a further 8 years, it needed a new bathroom -that was started two years ago - still not finished. Kitchen is functional but outdated. All the walls have woodchip paper - needs to come off and be redone really. He wouldn't entertain doing it - said I was welcome to. Needs a new boiler - even more so now.
Who drew up the agreement - and why?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He did. Reckoned his ex wife screwed him for more than she should have (not true, she just wanted half), and he was determined no one else would have any more of his property I think. The house was supposed to sell for more and I should have made a profit, but the housing market crashed big time just after the agreement was drawn up.
What was the speciality of the Solicitor you spoke to?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
If you mean the solicitor I saw about the agreement after the split, I think he is just a general solicitor in a small town practice. If he has a speciality (which I doubt) I'm afraid I don't know what it is. However he did know the solicitor who drew up the agreement - another local solicitor in Royston, and knew his reputation. I'm assuming he based his advice on that as well as seeing the agreement.
Was there any discussion about why a development agreement was used given that this was not a commercial transaction?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
None that I remember. He said he wanted to ensure things would be fair for when the house was sold, and of course at the time, the idea was to sell and move into a smaller house which we would have bought together. It wasn't until things started to go wrong and I took some advice as to what I should do next and it was explained to me what the difference was. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
What did you actually believe the agreement said
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I believed it was to ensure that the house development was done in a fair manner, and to keep track of expenses etc. The estate agent informs me that he has tole them he will not now finish the work until next year and that he wants to take the house off the market until the work is done. He's been saying that every year since the housing market crashed. It has become clear that he has no intention of selling and has used me to buy his wife out and tried to ensure I get nothing out of it.
What kind of development was planned ?Turning into flats?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Clare
Nothing so grand. The original plan was to jus decorate, do a bit of gardening (all of which I did. Put in a new bathroom and then sell. Seven years on and he still hasn't finished the bathroom which was started in 2013.
None of that amounts to Development sufficient to justify this agreementI believe that in fact there is a good chance that this agreement - which you clearly did not understand when you signed it and was produced underdubious circumstances to say the least - will not stand up to scrutiny by a Court and will not be valid in determining your share of the equity - and will allow you to ofrce an immediate sale of the propertyI would certainly suggest taking this matter further You have two choicesThe first is to get an opinion on the documentYou may find assistance here are looking for a specialist in Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees ActThe other is to apply to the court for the sale of the property and let your ex try and argue that you are bound by the agreementThe process is described here ask if you need further details
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Clare
Firstly my apologies for the delay in responding to your reply. I had been on holiday and the internet access there was sketchy to say the least, so I gave up trying to reply until I came home. Then sadly on Wednesday I was in a car accident that has left me fairly shaken and my car has been written off. So been a bit busy sorting all that out :-(
However, I would like to thank you for your advice and your work on my behalf over this. You are the first person to have given me a definite direction to seek a solution through which is great. I will check out the links you have sent and see what I can obtain and then hopefully move forward with this. Thank you again - may I come back if I have any questions after seeking out the advice at the links?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Having checked the pro bono link you kindly provided, it states:
1. All applications must be made through a referrer such as a lawyer, MP or advice agency (Citizens Advice Bureau or Law Centre).
Does this mean that you have to send it, or can I send it and refer to yourself as the person who recommended this route? It is a 9 page application form.

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