Posted by Hollie Lilley, Solicitor
Jointly owned property after separation – is sale the only option?
When unmarried cohabitees separate, a key issue is often jointly owned property and what should happen to it. One of the most common options is to ask the court to make an order that the property is placed on the open market and sold. However, the recent case of Kingsley v Kingsley confirms that alternative outcomes are possible.
The court cannot make an order that one co-owner transfers his or her share in jointly owned property to another co-owner. Kinglsey v Kinglsey is, however, an example, of where the court has given one co-owner the opportunity to buy the jointly owned property at a price determined by the court before it is placed on the open market.
Whilst the outcome of the two scenarios set out above is similar (if not identical) the decision in Kingsley v Kingsley confirms that an order allowing for sale of the whole property to one co-owner is within the court’s powers, but an order to transfer one co-owner’s share is not.
It is important to note that each case will be decided on its own facts. In Kingsley v Kingsley the fact that the property was farm land, and the co-owner who was given the option to purchase the property intended to continue the farming business, was very relevant to the outcome.
Are there alternative options?
Where you are in dispute with your co-owner regarding jointly owned property, it is important to seek appropriate advice as to the options available to you and the possible outcomes. The outcomes can vary greatly depending on your individual circumstances.
Regardless of what orders the court has the power to make, it is usually best to try and reach an agreement with your co-owner before it gets to court as settlements reached outside of court can be far more flexible to better suit your desired outcome.
For advice on issues around jointly owned property please contact our Property Disputes team on:
01225 730 137 Email us