Cohabiting couples are partners who live together but are not married or part of a Civil Partnership. Cohabitation disputes can also arise between friends who live or own property together or even family members.

It is becoming increasingly common due to the housing market that many people are purchasing properties with friends, partners or family members. A dispute can occur when property owners have not agreed what is to happen if they no longer all live at the property and even where there is an express declaration of trust setting out who owns what share in the property.

We are able to advise you at any stage of your dispute and will provide advice tailored to your individual circumstances. No two cases are the same and the advice you will require is as individual as you are.

When disputes arise

Most disputes arise over the ownership of the home of the cohabitees upon the ending of the relationship. One party may remain in occupation and does not wish to sell sometimes because they will not be able to afford a property of their own if the property is sold and sometimes because they simply do not want to engage in the process of selling the property. There can be legitimate reasons why the property should not be sold and we can help identify these.

The courts do not recognise a “common law Husband and Wife” and this will affect how property owned by one or both is dealt with when one party wants to move on or assert a right over the property whether it is owned by one party or in joint names.

There are basic principles that that will assist in how the dispute is resolved and these claims are brought under the Trusts of land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. The remedy most often sought is an order for sale and an unequal distribution of the proceeds of sale based on unequal payments towards the purchase price or mortgage payments after separation.

We regularly act for parties involved in a cohabitation dispute in sole and joint name cases and have achieved outcomes which have included:

  • A claim by a cohabite who successfully claimed a half share in the former home based on her mortgage contributions.
  • An order for sale in a joint name case.
  • An order for possession and subsequent sale of the jointly owned house against the party remaining in occupation and failing to pay the mortgage with an unequal distribution of the proceeds of sale to reflect the mortgage payments that has been made by party out of possession but making the mortgage to protect his credit rating.
  • In order for possession of the former home of the couple against the remaining owner who had then married and shared occupation with his new wife and her children.
  • An order for repayment and subsequent successful collection of £17,000 of mortgage arrears accrued by the owner remaining in the property.
  • An order for sale between siblings after the death of their parents where the other sibling lived in the home with his parents but ignored the terms of the wills of both parents to sell the property.

Contact Us

Please contact our disputes resolution team on 0844 567 2222 or to discuss your specific case.

We can carry out an early evaluation of your claim and advise on the likely outcome helping you determine your next steps.

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Our aim is to make sure you receive the right advice from the right people whenever and wherever you need it, delivered using simple, easy to understand language.

From making a Will, moving home, or a dispute; we offer tailored legal advice that will guide you through every eventuality, protecting you, your family and your future. Our lawyers are recognised experts in their fields and offer a wealth of experience.