Cohabitation and the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996

The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 is an important piece of legislation for unmarried couples and other people who jointly own property together or who live together. This includes for example gay couples that have not entered into a civil partnership and relatives that live together, for example, siblings living together and children  living with their parents.

Where the property is held in joint names the law presumes that it is held equally (i.e. 50/50 where there are 2 owners).

Sometimes, for whatever reason, the property is held in one person’s name only. However, it is possible for someone else to also have an interest in the property.

Section 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 gives the courts power to determine who owns a property and what shares they have. It also gives them the power to make an order for sale of the property. These are often referred to by lawyers as TOLATA claims.

It was my experience after the last recession, that couples would often do nothing after separating especially if there was little or no equity in the jointly held property. However, as property prices increased it  became worthwhile to make a TOLATA claim. A lot of property owners became very disappointed to learn that their ex-partners still had an interest in their property and that because the property had increased in value it would now cost a lot more to buy them out. This was often many years after their ex-partner had left the property. Unmarried couples splitting up should get advice early on. 

It is adviseable for anyone thinking of making an application, or faced with an application, to get advice from a solicitor. Liam Hastings specialises in TOLATA claims and litigation generally. Please telephone 01245 835 305 for advice.

Disclaimer: this blog is intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not intended as a substitute for independent legal advice.