You actually have no right to live in the property but if you have contributed to the mortgage or done repairs or anything like that you have a substantial financial interest in the property even though you may not be named on the deeds.
You can make an application to court under part 4 of the Family Law Act for a court order to remain the property but if you have no children depending on you it’s unlikely you would get that.
After 20 years living together you almost certainly have a large financial interest in the property and if she can’t afford to pay you then you can force a sale of the house although if she has a child under 18 you would probably not be able to do that until the child reaches 18.
No one can be compelled to continue to own/have money in a property which they no longer wish to own ( or in which they have a financial interest but not named on the deeds) and they are able to force a sale through the courts if necessary.
The remedy is to make an application to court for an order for sale under section 14 of the Trusts of Land Appointment of Trustees Act (the Act).
Anyone wishing to sell may find that a strongly worded letter from a solicitor threatening a court application and an application for costs, may focus the mind without actually having the need to get to court.
Check house insurance to see if there is legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal cost of taking the matter to court.
The wording of the application is along the following lines:
Therefore the claimant makes a claim pursuant to s.14 Trusts and Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1966 (TOLATA) pursuant to Part 8, for the following
i A declaration that the Claimant and Defendant are 50:50 beneficial owners of the property, (or whatever percentage a claimant is looking at depending on whether there is a declaration of trust, it’s tenants in common in different shares or depending on any financial input into the property if the property is only one name.)
ii That the property be sold:
iii That there be an adjustment of the financial shares to account for the additional money spent by the Claimant in excess of the agreed £20,000 project fund, the council tax, electricity and occupation rent for the period of time the Defendant has enjoyed sole use of the Property.
If I were advising anyone who has received a letter threatening an application to court under the Act and an application for legal costs, I would tell them to get the agents sign up immediately and cooperate with the sale because if they make the court application, they are likely to get it and they are likely to get costs awarded against them.
It is often the case that a robustly worded letter from a/your solicitor threatening a court application and an application for costs, may resolve the issue without the need to go as far as court.
On your house insurance you may have legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal cost so it’s worthwhile checking. Some do and some don't.
Thank you for letting me assist you with your legal question. I am glad that I was able to help.
I am not certain whether that answers the question for you or not, but I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.
It will be my pleasure to help you again either further with this or any future questions you have