Q: I split from my ex 2 years ago. He moved out and I stayed in the home we shared. We were not married but we bought the house together and I have paid for everything on my own since he went. However, his name is still on the mortgage, despite him not paying a penny since we split. If I sell the house will he still get 50%?
A: If the details at the land registry show clearly that you own the property jointly, on completion of a sale your ex should receive 50% of the net proceeds. Even if you have reduced the amount owing on the mortgage through the payments you alone have made since you and your ex split, or if you have increased the value of the property by paying for home improvements such as a new kitchen or windows, because he is joint owner your ex-partner could benefit.
For the reasons stated above, separating couples should always deal with the ownership of jointly owned property as soon as possible following separation. And couples who are not married should draw up a written agreement before they buy a property together, setting out exactly who will get how much when the property is sold, when the property must be sold by, and even how the contents of the property will be shared if the relationship does not work out.
A separation agreement will detail how the property is to be held, if one person can buy the other out, or how much each will receive upon sale. Another option is for couples to enter into a deed of trust which can be lodged at the land registry. A deed of trust spells out how the beneficial interest in property is to be held and can protect your position if you should contribute more to the property than your partner.
Article February 2021
This question has been answered by Deon Hayward, a Trainee Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
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