Tenants In Common One Wants To Sell UK

tenants in common one wants to sell uk

Ian McEwan, Property Disputes Solicitor

Do you own a property with someone as tenants in common?

Do you want to sell it?

Perhaps the relationship has broken down, and you need to get your equity out, get off the mortgage and move on with your life.

Presumably the other party doesn’t want to sell and there’s now a stalemate.

Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario.

As you’re here I’ll presume that you’re facing a similar situation.

As we’ll discuss below,  the party wishing to sell can force the sale if the other party is burying their head in the sand.


Tenants In Common

First things first.

It’s great that you know that you own the property as tenants in common.  Few people do.

Where the “equitable” interest in a property is held as tenants in common,  each owner owns a very distinct share of.  That might be a 50% share, or the parties could own it in some other proportions that they agreed when purchasing the property, 60:40 for example.

Often this is documented by something called a deed of trust to reflect one party contributing more towards the purchase price.

The alternative is to own the property as joint tenants where each party is equally entitled to the whole of the property.

But that doesn’t apply to you as you’re a tenant in common.

So, you know how you own the property, and presumably you know what proportions of it you and the other joint owner are each entitled to.

But what do you do if you are tenants in common where one wants to sell the property and the other doesn’t?

Tenants In Common One Wants To Sell UK – What To Do

There are several options available to you.

Try To Negotiate 

The starting point should always be to negotiate.

Or at least to try.

I appreciate, as you’ve found your way to this article, that you may have tried to negotiate already, and your requests are falling on deaf ears.

If that is the case you might need to send a “letter before action” threatening to apply to court for an order to force the sale of the property if the other party won’t cooperate.

Send A Letter Before Action

A letter before action is a formal letter setting out what you want to achieve and the legal basis that  entitles you to achieve it.

It offers the other party the chance to negotiate before any action is taken against them at court.

The letter allows us to set out to the other tenant in common:

  • That they’re not entitled to refuse to sell the property;
  • That you’re entitled to apply to court for an order for the property to be sold;
  • That they’ll be liable for your legal costs if you are forced to do that; and
  • That they can avoid the whole thing if they simply agree to sell the property.

Rightly or wrongly, receiving a solicitor’s letter such as this is often enough to make the difference.

It sends a clear signal that you won’t put up with being ignored any more.

More often than not, after receiving a letter before action, the other tenant in common will agree to sell the property.

Alternatively, you might receive an offer from them to purchase your share of the property, which will involve agreeing a valuation and a simple transfer.

An Example

I’m currently acting for a tenant in common whose co-owner (their ex partner) refused to sell their jointly owned house, despite their relationship having broken down some time ago.

The other party refused to speak to my client about selling the property for years.

He refused to answer the phone to her, or to return her text messages or emails.

We have sent him a couple of letters and the property is now on the market.

The other party provided no real reason to hold onto the property.  He was just being difficult.

Something like that can be very frustrating, especially if you are tied to a mortgage that prevents you from buying elsewhere.

Fortunately a letter before action will work most of the time.

Mediation – 80% Success Rate

Sometimes, with tenants in common where one wants to sell, we’ll need to go a bit further to try to reach an agreement.

One of the best ways to achieve that is via an informal type of dispute resolution called mediation.

We usually do this in a relaxed environment where an independent mediator oversees a series of meetings during the course of a day, or perhaps a morning, to help the owners arrive at a settlement that is acceptable to them both.

The parties don’t have to be in the same room if they choose, but the benefit of having them both available at the same time means that a lot of ground can be covered in a short space of time, drastically increasing the chances of settling the dispute.

Mediation has around an 80% success rate, so should always be considered.

Force A Sale Of The Property

This is only necessary in a minority of cases.

If the other tenant in common still refuses to engage, then the only option you have left is to apply to court for an order for the property to be sold.

The process is quite straightforward:

  • If the property is held as tenants in common ; and
  • The only dispute is whether or not the property should be sold; then
  • All that’s required is a simple application to court.

Given the failure of the other owner to cooperate you can ask the court to give you control of the marketing and sale of the property.

You can ask the court to appoint estate agents of your choice.

And you can also ask the court to sign the sale documents if you think that the other owner will refuse to do that.

In a relatively straightforward situation like this you could have an order for sale within a few months.


The Court Process

After issuing your application, the court will send a copy of it to the other tenant in common.

The court will also set a date for a hearing, and if everything goes well, you’ll get your order.

That said, after the application has been issued it’s quite common for the other party to get in touch with an offer to settle everything, meaning that you won’t have to go to the court hearing at all.

Sadly it sometimes takes the application to get them to take matters seriously.


What To Expect

In most cases I would expect the issue to be dealt with very  promptly, without the need for court involvement at all.

It shouldn’t take much more than a letter or two to get the other party to realise that the property needs to be placed on the market ASAP.


Tenants In Common One Wants To Sell UK

I hope that this has been a useful note and that you now have a good idea of how you can force the sale of a property that’s held as tenants in common where one wants to sell and the other doesn’t.

If you own a property as tenants in common with someone;  if you want to sell it; and if the other party is refusing to agree, 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 

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

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