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Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 71041
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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My neighbour came to me and asked me to join him in an application

Customer Question

My neighbour came to me and asked me to join him in an application for the freehold. He needed me because the other owner on the building wasn't interested. As I had just spent £40,000 on renewing my lease, I rather took the view he was trying an alternative way to get his lease extended (but get me to pay half his costs). I didn't hear any more for another year. When he came back to me I said I would agree to join forces so that we could get the freehold for the building but I would pay no costs because my flat was perfectly marketable with 117 years on the lease. So he went ahead and paid £52,000 with no agreement or request for money from me. I am on the Land Registry as share owner of the freehold. Now, 5 years later I want to sell my flat with a 50% share of the freehold and he is now refusing to sign over my share of freehold to my buyers. Can he go back on an agreement we made all that time ago.? If I am on the land registry title deeds, can he take this away from me? After all, without me he wouldn't have ANY freehold (and he has taken the freehold title of the flat below which accounts for 25% of the whole building (I own 50% of the floor space and he owns the remaining 25%) Has he any legal rights to prevent my sale from going through? He wanted to buy my flat but his offer was 25,000 short. The land at the bottom of the garden is very valuable for future development. What shall I do? Can the land registry help?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Sorry for the delay.

What action would you like to take over this?

What do you want to achieve?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for coming back to me. What I want to know is: am I automatically classed as a non-beneficial 50% share holder of the freehold if there is nowhere on the Land Registry transfer (or in fact any paperwork received at the time), which specifically states that I am. I know he paid for the actual transfer premium and costs, but can any value be assigned to the fact I agreed to join forces with him in order to acquire the freehold? Seems to me that I have got nothing out of making it possible for him to acquire all of the beneficial freehold title for the whole building. I have just been left with the 'Legal' title at the land registry (pretty valueless?)
So please let me know If you consider that my title is worth anything and also if I can apply for a 999 year lease extension for myself? Thank you
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.

You need to check the land registry title. If there is a restriction in section B of the land registry title with words to the effect of, "no disposition by a sole proprietor is to be registered” then you will be tenants in common therefore owning 50% each unless the transfer specifies a different percentage.

That would be common for a purchase like this but obviously that can only be guaranteed by checking the deeds.

If that is right then if one of you dies, your respective 50% is distributed in accordance with each of your wills.

If that restriction is not in there, then you will be joint tenants, which means that if one of you die the other one automatically owns the freehold regardless of what it says in the deceased will.

Yes, a value can be attached that you agreed to join forces with him and that is sufficient consideration for an agreement.

Remember that there are two titles. The first is the legal title and the second the equitable title. The legal title cannot be severed. That will always remain in joint names. You can sever the equitable title so that the tenants in common can be divided.

The court will take the view that it doesn't matter what each of you contribute originally. If one person pays for everything and the other provides consideration by agreeing to the transfer then they would both have added something of value. You would both be entitled to something and a court would probably be of the view this should be divided 50-50.

you should also bear in mind that if he wanted to sell the property and his part of the freehold then he cannot sell without your consent and signature.

Can I clarify anything for you?