How do I claim my share of a property when my name is not on the deeds?
Our free Legal Helpline deals with thousands of calls each year, and one of the most common queries we receive is from people asking, ‘How do I claim my share of a property?’
The majority of people who own a property will normally ensure their name appears on the title deeds. However, there are circumstances in which those with a rightful claim to ownership of a property will not have their ownership formally registered on the property title.
This situation can arise among married couples as well as cohabitees, and within family arrangements, often involving parents and children.
Unfortunately there are a lot of common misunderstandings about property ownership and this can result in some very unfair and unjust consequences for those who are not protected.
The basic legal position is that the owner of a property is the person whose name appears on the property’s title. Land is now formally registered at HM Land Registry, so it is relatively easy to check the register to find out if you are on the registered title.
My name isn’t on the title, so how do a claim my share of a property?
If your name is not on the legal title you will not be regarded as the legal owner of the property. However, this does not mean that you cannot assert your ownership rights.
There are a number of ways in which lawyers can establish ownership of a property, even if the owner’s name is not on the deeds.
There may, for instance, be a written declaration in existence confirming what lawyers refer to as the ‘beneficial ownership’ of a property. This is where property is owned by one person for the benefit of another, and that arrangement has been confirmed in writing, often with the percentage ownership expressly declared where the property is jointly owned.
If there isn’t anything in writing all is not lost. You may be able to show that there is a ‘resulting trust’. This can be implied by a court to reflect financial contributions you have made either to the purchase of the property or funding mortgage payments.
Alternatively a ‘constructive trust’ may arise if there was a common intention for you to have a share of the ownership.
There is also a legal principle known as estoppel which can allow people to claim a share of a property where they have been made a promise and acted to their detriment in reliance on it.
Free legal helpline
If you are wondering, ‘How do I claim my share of a property?’ then call our free legal helpline for a free case assessment. Property ownership can be a very complex area of law, especially when declarations, resulting trusts, constructive trusts and estoppel are involved, so it is important to take professional advice from a specialist lawyer.
We deal with property ownership claims on a national basis and are often able to work on a no win, no fee basis.