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Jun 2018

Help with your trusts of land (ToLATA) disputes

With a rise in property prices, more and more people are now purchasing property together, outside of the traditional marriage. This may be friends purchasing together or couples co-habiting.

If these relationships should break down, then the parties may find themselves in the complicated area of law, a Trust of Land (ToLATA) dispute.

ToLATA is used when the ownership or interest in a property comes into dispute and the parties disagree with the proportion that each of them should receive.

In brief, a ToLATA claim may allow the Court to determine the extent of each party’s interest, and also how that interest should be dealt with.

This may for example include:

  • Who is entitled to occupy,
  • Who can receive rent,
  • The management of the property,
  • Should the property be sold.

There are two sets of rights regarding land;

  1. Legal Title, which is usually what is registered with the Land Registry.
  2. Beneficial Title, this is what people are truly entitled to.

Beneficial rights can be acquired irrespective of the legal title.

Generally, where property is in joint names, the law assumes it is held in equal shares, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

Where is a written agreement, and all the formalities are complied with, the position is normally clear cut.

However, in the majority of cases there is no written agreement. Your case may be where one of the parties is trying to claim a substantial and significant contribution to the purchase, upkeep or improvements, or they have relied upon a promise that they will have a share in the property, to their detriment. In these situations the Court may be asked to determine your shares.

Your success very much depends upon the strength and reliability of evidence that can be produced.

Once an interest in a property is established, the Court then takes into account the parties’ intention, the welfare of any child, the interest of any secured creditor, when deciding if and when the property should be sold.

It is a complicated area of law, and so advice from a solicitor should be sought at an early opportunity.

Your solicitor should advise you to try and resolve the dispute by alternative dispute resolution.

Mediation can often be effective and is cheaper than Court proceedings, and allows you to play a more active role.

If this does not work, more formal Court proceedings to go before a Judge may be required.

If you are in this situation and would like to know where to go from here, please contact our Litigation Team to discuss.

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