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Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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I am going through the process of separating from

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I am going through the process of separating from my partner of nearly 40 years. This process has been going on now for over three years since my partner first took legal advice, but we do continue to live in the same property.
We live in a large property in London which has been rapidly appreciating in the past few years. Many years ago we set up a declaration of trust which primarily detailed how the value of the property would be divided and the process for doing it. My partner’s share of the home is 74.5% and mine 25.5%. The declaration of trust said that valuation would be decided by certified surveyor so the price one partner would sell the property to the other could be established.
Initially my partner organised her own valuation without me being aware it was happening, I objected to this as I considered the price suggested was well below my own expectation. Following this there was a time of disagreement about how to proceed, I did arrange for another valuation to be carried out but my partner cancelled the visit at short notice. Over six months ago my partner through her legal representatives wrote asking me to suggest a selling price for my share of the property. I worked out a figure based on Zoopla’s online valuation this was £360,000. This was agreed in principle but again there was a delay, initially because our son was about to emigrate to Australia and my partner was worried about his possible reaction to the situation. A contract was then sent though about two months ago but part of the contract required an inventory to be detailed and it has taken a considerable amount of time to draw this up and agree who owns what.
A revised contract with inventory is now ready for signing but in the intervening period the property has again increased its value and using the same process my share would be £385,000. Until now I have not had legal advice but it is now becoming very difficult to negotiate directly with my partner. I have been threatened with the matter being taken to court so I would appreciate an opinion on whether I would be entitled to claim for the growth in value or whether the courts would be more likely to favour my partners position.
Kind regards
Mark Ellis
Hi, thank you for your question. I am a qualified family law solicitor.
Can you confirm if you are married?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
HelloNo we are not married
Thank you for confirming.
It appears that the relevant shares between you upon sale have been agreed. Your negotiations and agreement should be based on the percentage shares and not on your informal valuation of the property. Once marketed, the property will be priced formally at the appropriate valuation at that time and your 25.5% share will be obtained upon sale of the property.
I would suggest that if matters have come to a head that you write to him or his solicitors and request that you enter into mediation, which will involve an independent mediator assisting you both to reach an amicable agreement. You can find local mediators here:
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
HelloThe point is that my partner wants to buy my share of the property and remain in the house. So the question is whether I have any legal obligation to keep to the price I offered over six months ago or I am I free to change the price as the value has risen by over 6% in that time?Please advise.Kind regardsMark Ellis
Ah I see, apologies I thought that the property was to be sold.
In that case, as you have confirmed that the declaration of trust specifically states that a chartered surveyor should be providing a valuation of the property, your partner cannot rely on a valuation from Zoopla as these are not 100% accurate and should not be relied on.
I understand that the valuation was agreed in principle, however you were still negotiating the exact terms of the contract and if no implementation of the agreement has commenced (eg. money being paid to you under the agreement in principle), then I feel that he cannot enforce the agreement in principle. If she were to take the matter to court then the court will assess whether the terms of the agreement were sufficiently certain so as to be enforceable and if not, the agreement could not amount to a binding and enforceable contract.
I think the best course of action is to inform her solicitors that you do not agree with commencing with the Zoopla valuation and refer them to what has been set out in the trust document (for a chartered surveyor to undertake a valuation).
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