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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 14276
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My ex partner lives with me for 12 weeks in a property I

Customer Question

My ex partner lives with me for 12 weeks in a property I own, they are claiming they paid for renovation works but only put in fitted wardrobes which I believed to be a gift. They are now trying to claim over £26,000 off me.
Assistant: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: Im collecting bank statement, they are claiming they were going to give me £75,000 in 7 years time to buy in to the property which I did not agree to.
Assistant: Where is the property located?
Customer: Stoke on trent
Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I’m frightened of them as they were abusive
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

Good afternoon. I will assist with your question - be aware this is an email not chat service and I may be delayed in replying.

who are 'they'?

how long in total were you together and in the property together?

in what way were they abusive?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
We were together for 3 years but lived in my property for 12 weeks. They is my ex partner.
I brought my house for security for myself and my son
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Mentally mainly but she did punch me and push me around. Since they spilt she has threatened to kill me damage my property and told me to always watch my back.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
We spilt up nearly 2 years ago
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

Ignoring the length of time that your ex-partner lived with you in the property…

How long have you owned the house for?

How much were the wardrobes?

Please explain how this GBP75,000 fits into the equation?

Have you had a solicitors letter and if so, can you attach it please?

I you saying that your ex-partner paid nothing whatsoever towards this property except the wardrobes?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I’ve owned the property for 2.5yrs now.
The wardrobes were £6000.
She inherits money in what will be 4.5 years now.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
2nd page
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Some tiles, the furniture has been taken now. I insisted that anything she brought could be removed as the property was mine.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Originally she was asking for £50,000
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
This is my son’s home, I’m a full time student.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

Thank you.

I have a one-page letter which appears to be sent from Emily’s solicitor to your solicitor.

In the second paragraph, it interesting to note that Emily alleges this is having emotional effect but couldn’t care less about that because she just wants the money!

They appear to be alleging that you lived together for 3 years not 12 weeks.

I don’t know whether the intention to buy the property jointly with her paying 50% in the future was real or a later fabrication.

Just because Emily wasn’t in the position to contribute financially didn’t mean that the property could not have been joint names.

In the fourth paragraph, they contradict what they said earlier.

Earlier, they said “lived together for 3 years”

later on, they admit that there was only work going on in the property and even then only for seven months.

I cannot see a second page and I do not have reference to any earlier correspondence.

What I think they are trying to do is bring a claim in Promissory Estoppel or Proprietary Estoppel.

Promissory Estoppell. This is a technical legal doctrine not used very often. It says that if anyone has been promised something during the lifetime of a person and they relied on that promise to their detriment then they are entitled to have whatever was promised.

The classic case is indeed the young man on the farm, who is told by the old man “don’t go off to seek your fortune son, but stick with me and work on the farm and I will leave it to you when I die,”.

So the young man doesn’t go off to seek his fortune and stays and works on the farm and it turns out that when the old man dies he leaves everything in his estate to the prize cow, Daisy or his new girlfriend, who is 30 years younger than he is.

In that case, the young man having given up a future (to his detriment) on the basis that one day (he was promised) the farm would be his and he believed it and relied on it, he can get a court order that the farm is transferred to him.

Such claims are not cheap or quick to bring in do require a large burden of proof of the promise and reliance to detriment.

What she is likely to allege is that she only worked on the property and paid for the bedroom (acting to her detriment) on the basis that she would some stage in the future have a claim against the property.

You are entitled to know how this claim is funded and whether that is the benefit of after the event insurance because of this goes to court, the loser could easily be on the receiving end of costs in excess of GBP10,000 and more likely approaching GBP20,000 and therefore, if she is bringing the action, and she loses, you need to that she is going to have the financial wherewithal to pay that money. Otherwise you can ask the court for “an order for security for costs” where she is going to have to stump up the money and pay it to court or provide some kind of security to pay your costs in the event that her claim is not successful.

Whether this is successful or not would depend on a whole variety of circumstances including what work she did to the property, what she was promised she would get out of it and what she can prove in respect of the same.

In your handwritten note you say that it was explained that it was her choice and that she would not get any financial benefit but you are going to have to prove that.

I’m sorry to say that this is far from cut and dried, that she has no financial interest in the property other than the cost of the bedroom. At this stage in time you need to consider making her an offer to refund the cost of the bedroom in full, in order to drop the claim. That would need to be done is a Civil Procedure Rules Part 36 offer which has certain criteria your solicitor will advise you about. If she accepts the amount of money on offer, that gets rid of the claim altogether. I cannot see that you have a defence to the claim in respect of the wardrobes and the rest of her claim is going to be very difficult for her to prove but also difficult for you to defend.

EDIT

I have the 2nd page now.

She is alleging that money was put into a NatWest account in respect of home improvements. That would be easy for her to prove or disprove.

If she did give money in respect of home improvements, I would suggest that you readily agreed to refund that under the same Part 36 offer I mentioned earlier.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

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Thank you.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.

FES

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I paid for the refurbished.
With the wardrobes they were her choice to put in a house she didn’t own. I do not have the funds to give her anything... what can I do?
She has threatened to kill me.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Can the wardrobes not be removed instead.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

If she has threatened to kill you, you need to go immediately to the police with the date and the time and give them chapter and verse and you need to make sure that your solicitor tells the other side that and of the police involvement. Make sure you get an incident number.

As they say, the house is worth GBP170,000 with no mortgage and in order to get rid of this, you need to look at raising the finance to pay whatever she contributed to the property by way of renovations (not bills) and whatever she contributed to the wardrobes.

If you don’t get rid of this before it gets to court, and she beats your part 36 offer, by even 1 pound, or she makes a substantial win if you haven’t made an offer, then you are going to face tens of thousands of pounds of legal costs and not having the money to pay those costs is not going to be an option, you would end up having to sell the house.

Therefore, in my opinion you need to look at the amount of money which she paid on the wardrobes and contributed to the renovations.

The wardrobes being removed are worthless.

Even if you were to offer, say, GBP15,000 (I don’t know how much she is alleging she put into NatWest) you need to be aware that she has probably already spent several thousand pounds in legal costs and the more protracted the correspondence becomes, the bigger the legal bill and the less attractive it is to accept any offer which you put forward.

I’m sorry to say that in my opinion, and based upon what I have in front of me, not making an offer and simply going blindly to court on this is not an option because it’s going to be extremely risky. She is almost certainly going to get something so it really is a case of damage limitation to get away with paying her as little as you can get away with.

I’m sorry, I know this is not the answer you wanted.