It is becoming more and more common for friends and family members to own property together.  Hayley Prideaux, Solicitor MW's Estate and Trust Dispute Team, discusses the difficulties which can be experienced when joint owners disagree about what to do with a property and how our specialist team can assist to resolve the dispute.

Joint Ownership is a Trend on the Rise

Friends ‘clubbing together’ in order to get onto the property ladder, parents lending money to their child and perhaps their child’s partner to enable them to purchase a property, and siblings inheriting a property under a Will or on an intestacy.  The reasons behind this growing trend are many and varied but joint ownerships often come with a much greater potential for a complex and distressing ownership dispute in future years. 

How Joint Owner Disputes Occur

A dispute may arise when the relationship between joint owners breaks down or when one joint owner wants to sell their share of the property and the other does not want to sell or if they cannot agree the value or size of their share. The more joint owners that are involved the more chance of a dispute occuring.

This often happens when property is inherited under a Will or intestacy and when one owner wants to sell the property and the other wants to keep it. This can be particularly distressful at a time when you are also suffering bereavement and coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

If agreement cannot be reached, a stalemate can arise which may go on for many years, during which, the property must be maintained and other outgoings must be paid for.

Making a TOLATA Claim

Where the joint owners of property cannot agree, any one of them may apply to the Court to resolve the situation.

Applications are made to the Court under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). The Court has wide-ranging powers under the Act and can make an order that the property be sold and/or an order that one party living in the property pays the other owner an occupation rent, if those orders are applied for.

However, there is no guarantee the Court will make such orders where they are applied for.  The Court will take a range of factors into account when deciding whether to make them, such as:

  • the intentions of the parties at the time the property was purchased (if relevant)
  • the purpose for which the property is held
  • the level of rent that would ordinarily be payable on the open market
  • the parties’ respective beneficial interests in the property

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is “to make quality legal services accessible to everyone” including those who find themselves in dispute with a co-owner of a property.  We can act for clients who have inherited a property under a Will or on an intestacy, or who bought a property with a loved one or friend. 

We can advise you as to whether you may be entitled to bring a claim under TOLATA and we can assist you with any discussions and negotiations with your co-owner in order to resolve the dispute. We are keen advocates of mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and will do all we can to resolve your dispute in a sensitive and cost effective way.  Our specialist Estate and Trust Dispute Solicitors are here to offer a helping hand and to guide you though the process of making a claim as quickly and painlessly as possible.  If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at

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