Split Up With Partner What Am I Entitled To?

split up with partner what am I entitled to

Ian McEwan, Property Disputes Solicitor

Have you been living as an unmarried couple with someone?

Has the relationship broken down?

Do you need to know whether you’re entitled to a share of the property after splitting up with your partner?

The laws for unmarried couples are quite different to those for married couples when it comes to property rights after splitting up

If you aren’t married the starting point to determine whether you’re entitled to a share of the property is to look at who the legal owner of the property is.


Who Is The “Legal” Owner Of The Property

The starting point is to find out who is registered as the legal owner of the property at the Land Registry.

It might be one of you, or it might be both.


When One Of You Owns The Property

If you’ve established that the home is legally owned by just one of you, the starting point will be that the person named at the Land Registry will more likely than not be entitled to the property.

This is often the case where one partner already owns a home, and the other party moves in with them.

There are however ways to claim some or all of the property, even if you are not the registered owner.


Prove A Mistake

If you can prove that the Land Registry records are wrong and that you actually purchased the property together with the intention of being joint owners it might be possible to have the position rectified if the forms were filled out incorrectly.


Claim A Beneficial Interest In The Home

A more common way to claim part of a property is to prove that you have what is known as a “beneficial interest” in it.  If you can establish this you will be entitled to a share of the home.

To claim a beneficial interest you would need to prove that an agreement existed between you to share the property, or alternatively that a “common intention” to share it existed between you


Agreement To Share The Home

Even if you are not named as a legal owner of the property, if you can show that there was an agreement to share the beneficial ownership of the home you could be awarded part of it. Obviously an agreement in writing would be very helpful in that regard, but a verbal agreement might also be sufficient.


You Must Have Acted To Your Detriment

Where one partner claims that there was an agreement to share the beneficial interest in the property, that partner must also show that they acted to their detriment having relied upon that agreement.  Examples of acting to one’s detriment might include making a monetary contribution to the property, or moving into the property from the secure accommodation elsewhere.


Contributions To The Purchase Price, Mortgage Payments and Major Works

A simpler way to establish a beneficial interest in the property is to show that you either made a contribution to the purchase price of the property, or have made payment of mortgage instalments.

If you can show either of these then both an agreement and detriment are likely to be inferred and so a beneficial interest will be established entitling you to a share of the property.

Payments to your partner to allow them to pay the mortgage might also be good enough, as would payments made for large upgrades to the home. So if you’ve paid for an extension for example, that might also be enough.


How Much Can You Claim?

If you can prove that an agreement or a common intention to share the property existed, and that you relied upon it to your detriment, you’ll then want to know how much of the equity in the property you are entitled to.

You’ll want to know whether the equity should be shared equally, or whether it should be split between you in a some other way.

If you can agree what you are each entitled to after splitting up then those proportions can be documented quite quickly.

But if not, or if your ex denies that you’re entitled to anything, then you’ll need to apply to court to ask it to determine this.

Often however, a strongly worded letter  will be enough to resolve the situation.

For a more detailed note on this I suggest that you read my article on how to prove a beneficial interest in property.


When The Property Is Owned By Both Of You

Establishing what you’re entitled to after splitting up when not married is usually easier when the parties own the property together.

By that I mean that they are both registered with the Land Registry as the legal owner.


When You Own As Tenants In Common

When buying a property together couples often record the beneficial proportions of the property that they will each own via a document called a declaration of trust.

So, for example, you might state that you each own the beneficial interest in 50:50 equal shares, or perhaps 60:40.

If you used a declaration of trust you will most likely own the beneficial interest in the property as tenants in common.

If that is the case the equity in the property that you are entitled to will be determined by what you agreed in the declaration of trust.


When You Own As Joint Tenants

If you don’t own the benefit of the property as tenants in common you will own it as joint tenants.

This will be the case where no declaration of trust has been entered into, or where one was entered into but you specified that you intended to own the property as joint tenants.

As joint tenants the starting point will be that you will be taken as owning the property in equal beneficial shares.


What Happens If I Die?

If you are a tenant in common and were to pass away, your interest in the property will pass to the people identified in your will or under the laws of intestacy if you don’t have one.

If you are a joint tenant your interest in the property will pass automatically to the other joint tenant if you were to pass away. The same is true in reverse (i.e. if the other joint tenant where to pass away their interest in the property would pass to you).

You can sever a joint tenancy to turn it into a tenancy in common should you wish.


What You Need To Do

As you’re reading this article I assume that you have split up with your ex, you were never married, and you want to claim some or all of the home that you shared.

You might want to claim part of it, buy your ex out, get your name off the joint mortgage, or sell the property to get your money out and move on with your life.


Letter Before Action

Often one party will bury their head in the sand when it comes to dealing with the property after a break-up.

If you’re getting nowhere with your former partner the best thing to do is to send a letter before action.

This is a formal letter that sets out what you are claiming and why you are entitled to it.

It makes things very clear to the other party what they are required to do.

You also can’t apply to court for any help without sending one of these letters first.

Receiving a letter such as this will usually be enough to convince the other side to negotiate.


Make An Application To Court

If the letter before action doesn’t result in a satisfactory outcome, the next step is to apply to court.

If you’re claiming an interest in a property where your former partner is the sole legal owner you will need to apply to court to ask it to declare that you have an  interest in the property.

You’d probably also ask the court to order that the property should be sold so that the sale proceeds can be distributed between you.

On the other hand, if you own the property jointly and your former partner won’t agree to sell it or to buy you out, you will simply need to apply to court for an order for sale so that you can get your money out and move on.

Many of these claims settle soon after you’ve applied to court, and never reach the courtroom.

That said, a well worded letter or two may well do the trick, without the need to apply to court at all.


Split Up With Partner What Am I Entitled To – Next Steps

I hope that you now have a better idea of what you might be entitled to having split up with your partner.

If you own a property jointly with someone or have lived with someone as a couple, if the relationship has broken down, if you were never married, if you want to sell or claim an interest in the property, and if the other person is refusing to co-cooperate, feel free to get in touch. I’d be happy to discuss this with you.


Get In Touch

You can call me now on 020 7842 1452

Email me at ian@propertydisputes.co.uk

Or complete a Free Online Enquiry

I’ll then get in touch as soon as I can for a chat about your legal rights and options.

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