Unmarried cohabitees or former cohabitees seeking to claim an interest in a property

July 12th, 2022

Is your name not registered on the property title ? Do you think you  should be entitled to have an interest in the  property where you live or previously lived ? Do you feel you have been treated unfairly and your rights to an interest in the property have been disregarded ?

Separating from a partner can be difficult to come to terms with. Uncertainty can follow for one’s financial future. It can become a shock for separating couples to discover that they will not have the same rights as a married couple especially when it comes to the main asset which is the property.

When it comes to property disputes, unmarried separating couples can make claims for a share in a property under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA). The TOLATA legislation gives the Court the ability to make decisions regarding property disputes between unmarried couples.

A TOLATA claim can be brought by co-owners or where only one party is the registered owner and where it is necessary to determine the legal and/or beneficial  share of the property each party owns, to force the sale of the property/land or to reoccupy a previous family home if an ex-partner refuses to vacate.

Under Section 14 of the TOLATA a claim can be brought by ‘any person who is a trustee of land or has an interest in property subject to a trust of land ‘. In practical terms, this is invariably a cohabitee or former cohabitee who is a  co-owner or a person with an unidentified beneficial interest in the property.

As Linder Myers have  solicitors who practise in this field we will advise and represent you as to how best  to formally bring or defend a claim and guide you through the process of instructing a valuer and ultimately attempt to resolve the matter through negotiation or even mediation.

Negotiations will take place on a without prejudice basis between both parties and their solicitors with the aim of settling the matter outside of court. If both sides agree on a resolution, the matter will reach a conclusion which can involve drawing up a legal agreement such as one party promising to buy the other’s share of the property or perhaps agreeing to sell the property. The terms of the agreement will be in full and final settlement.

A TOLATA application will typically be made by a person who is a co-owner or a person who has beneficial interest in the property. The person seeking to bring a claim does not have to be the registered owner. There are various reasons why a claim can be brought. Perhaps a deposit was paid or a financial contribution was made to the mortgage. There may have been a common intention to share the property which if not expressly agreed could be implied by law. Perhaps you acted to your detriment in some way such as incurring expenditure on the property acquisition directly or indirectly or gave up an interest in a property which you previously owned.

If you’d like to reach out to us about a claim in relation to this, fill out the form below and a member of the group will be in touch.