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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 17318
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My ex partner wants me to sign over the deeds of the house

Customer Question

My ex partner wants me to sign over the deeds of the house we bought together 16 years ago, I haven’t lived there or contributed to the mortgage in maybe 9/10 years but when we were together I paid for everything including the full mortgage for a while and helped pay of his credit card debt. He had agreed to buy me out for 20,000 but was unable to due to negative equity on the house... but now he is sick and wants me to sign over the deeds and be entitled to nothing in the event of his death.. do I have any entitlement?
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No I just got the letter yesterday
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about this?
Customer: not yet
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: nothing that’s really relevant.. we broke up due to domestic abuse but have been amicable the last 7/8 years
Submitted: 16 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 16 days ago.

Welcome to Just Answer.

I will be happy to assist with your question today. I need some time to consider this and compose a response. There is NO need to wait online because you will get an email when I respond. Sometimes it will be minutes, sometimes longer.

I apologise for any unavoidable delay, but rest assured I have not forgotten your question.

in who's name is ***** ***** in?

did you have any agreements as in joint or tenants in common?

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
The mortgage is in both our names and we are joint tenants as far as I am aware
Expert:  F E Smith replied 16 days ago.

I’m not certain what the problem is here because you don’t have to sign anything and you are still entitled to 50% of the house less an allowance for any improvements done since you left the property and an allowance in respect of capital repayments on the mortgage.

So it comes down to how much he is prepared to pay you to do this otherwise I would tell him to get lost. I’m not certain if I’m missing something or is that it?

I am glad to help.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

I would be more than happy to clarify anything else for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

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

Please be aware that my answer is based strictly upon the information you have given me.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will be happy to reply because the thread does not close. In fact, it remains open indefinitely.

I am always happy to answer any further questions you have on any new thread in which case, please start your question with, “ For FES only”.

You don’t need to do it on this thread, just a new thread. You have me exclusively on this one.

Thank you.

Best wishes.

FES

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
There’s no other reason other than he has been diagnosed with cancer in April and only told me last week and in the event of his death he wants to make sure his daughters are looked after and I am happy to make sure that happens too, it was a verbal agreement to buy me out for 20,000 but he couldn’t get a mortgage in his own name die to negative equity... then a letter appears asking be if I would confirm to sign the deeds to transfer property into his name. He won’t respond to messages, as I said we were amicable but I feel like I may need to get myself a solicitor to respond to his
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
I would still accept 20,000 which is less than 1/4 of what the house is worth
Expert:  F E Smith replied 16 days ago.

It’s entirely up to you how much you accept because If 2 people own a property are not married and there are no children and there is no agreement to the contrary as to what will happen when the property gets sold, then it is split 50-50. It doesn’t matter what each person puts in by way of deposit and what each person puts in over the period of ownership, it split 50-50. It does not matter that one of them pays all the mortgage and puts all the deposit in and the other one sits by and does nothing but drink tea, it is split 50-50.

The courts have decided that if a couple are buying a property together they would have an agreement if they were putting different amounts of money in and wanted money out in proportion. They would safeguard their “asset” by putting it in writing.

Relevant case law is Kernott v Jones.

I will say that I don’t agree with this decision but I don’t make the law, I just regurgitate it. The case does go on to say that if the couple were living in the property and one party moves out, then any contributions to the capital or fabric or improvements of the property, after that person moved out but which were made by the one remaining, will be taken into account with the final division of assets from a sale of the property.

What the case law goes on to say is that any contributions to capital (not interest) and any maintenance or payment towards the property other than the mortgage, after a couple split up will be taken into account in the division of the assets. The reason it all isn’t taken into account is that if you have the benefit of living in the property then you have the burden of paying the mortgage.

Not relative to the case law but if either party wants the property sold, then the reluctant non-sale wishing party can be taken to court for an order for sale under the Trusts of Land Appointment of Trustees Act s14 and they would usually get the order against the reluctant seller and get caught and solicitors costs also awarded against the reluctant seller. If anyone ever threatens to apply to court for an order for sale, my advice to the other party is to get the estate agents sign up straightaway.

Meanwhile, a person is not responsible for the mortgage or the bills of a house that they do not live in although they remain liable to the lender if the other co-owner stays in the property but doesn’t pay.

You are quite at liberty to tell him that you will sign the house over to him if he pays you the 20 grand. I can’t think why you would do that for nothing.

You could, if you wished, say that you would sign the property over to him for 20 grand subject to him granting the right for you to live in the property for life.

The alternative is that either you or he could force a sale of the property

No one can be compelled to continue to own a property which they no longer wish to own 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.

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.

I am glad to help.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

I would be more than happy to clarify anything else for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

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

Please be aware that my answer is based strictly upon the information you have given me.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will be happy to reply because the thread does not close. In fact, it remains open indefinitely.

I am always happy to answer any further questions you have on any new thread in which case, please start your question with, “ For FES only”.

You don’t need to do it on this thread, just a new thread. You have me exclusively on this one.

Thank you.

Best wishes.

FES

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Sorry I meant to say he lives in it I don’t, does that make a difference?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 16 days ago.

Nope. Not apart from the fact that you having the right to live in it for life doesn’t apply.

It’s in joint names and if you want to move back in, you can do.

If you want to force a sale you can do.

No one can be compelled to continue to own a property which they no longer wish to own 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.

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.

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
I appreciate your help, thank you so much... I will be in touch
Expert:  F E Smith replied 15 days ago.

No problem at all. I am really glad to help. Come back to me at any time if anything else needs clarification. Kind regards