A claim under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA), can help determine the extent of a person’s legal interest in a property.
If you are a cohabiting couple, or perhaps you bought a property with a friend or as part of a Bank of Mum and Dad (BoMaD) transaction and now your relationship or circumstances have changed, you may need to work out who owns what in terms of a percentage of the value of the property. The methods for doing this are different to those used for married and civil-partnered couples under matrimonial law.
What a TOLATA claim can and can’t do
TOLATA gives courts the power to order the owner of land or property to act in a particular way; most commonly, this results in an order to sell the property and divide the proceeds in a specified manner among the interested parties. The court cannot alter the legal ownership of a property or adjust the proportions that each party owns.
Where a property is solely owned by one party, but another party feels they have an interest as a result of financial input, a TOLATA claim may be made to establish shared interest.
Sole ownership – claims for beneficial interest
In order to establish a beneficial interest in solely owned property it will be necessary to prove that there has been an express agreement to share ownership. Alternatively, it may be possible to show that an agreement is inherently inferred through the conduct of the parties.
For instance, if you are claiming interest in a property solely owned by another party, you will need to demonstrate that any discussions about the property you have had with the owner constitute detrimental reliance. Similarly, if you have paid for utilities or home improvements, these are also evidence of detrimental reliance.
You may also be able to demonstrate beneficial interest if you made a direct contribution to the purchase price of a property (supplying funds for a deposit, for instance) or if you have paid mortgage repayments. Evidence of any such payment could necessarily prove detriment.
Joint name cases
For over two decades, people who buy a property together have been required to register their interest by completing a Land Registry document (TR1). Ownership options are as follows:
- Beneficial joint tenancy;
- Tenants in common in equal shares;</li|
- Tenants in common in unequal shares.
The latter two options constitute an express declaration of trust and, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the parties’ beneficial ownership is determined by the terms contained within the declaration of trust. In the event that joint owners purchase as tenants in common without an express declaration of trust, the law presumes beneficial interest equal to their contributions.
TOLATA dispute solicitors in Sevenoaks
Wellers Reece-Jones TOLATA solicitors in Kent can bring clarity to the issues associated with solely-owned and jointly-owned property. We can help you make sense of the requirements and evidence needed so that you can move forward with your claim.
We are one of the leading dispute resolution specialists in Kent and we pride ourselves on offering a London-level legal service without the premium associated with most firms in the capital.