We're here to help with your Trust of Land (ToLATA) disputes

Trusts of Land (ToLATA)

The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 is a complicated area of law. Our website aims to give you a simplified explanation, together with a step-by-step guide on how to go forward with a ToLATA dispute. However, it is not intended as a substitute for proper legal advice. Many of the cases we see in this area are when couples split up and the ownership, or their “interest” in a property comes into dispute and they disagree with the proportion each of them should receive when it is sold, or the ownership transferred. We help our clients to gain their rightful interest and have even done so when other solicitors have failed.

The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (ToLATA) allows the court to determine the extent of each party’s interest in the land or property and also how that interest can be dealt with. It can also allow them to order the sale of a property. When relationships break down, one or other of the parties usually moves out of the house, yet both parties may have an equal entitlement to remain in occupation. Long-term, the non-resident party will usually want the property to be sold and to receive their share of the proceeds or for their share to be bought out by the other party. They will also want to be freed from any obligations they have on the mortgage on the property. ToLATA sets the framework for this to be dealt with.

The law in relation to land is the same whether you are co-habiting or just claiming an interest in the property. Where property is held in joint names, the law assumes that it is held in equal proportions, ie 50:50, unless there is an agreement in place, either verbally or in writing, showing the shares are in a different proportion, known as a ‘Resulting Trust’, ‘Constructive Trust’ or ‘Express Trust'. When the position is set out in writing, the position is normally clear cut. However, where there is no written agreement and one of the parties claims a substantial and significant contribution to the purchase, upkeep or improvement of the property, then the Court can determine the shares held by each party. This very much depends on the strength and reliability of evidence. One of the leading cases in this area for co-habitees is Jones v Kernott.

If you live in rented property your rights will depend on whether you are named in the tenancy agreement or rent book. If you are not, then you have no legal right to stay in the home. Where you are named in the agreement you are jointly and severally liable under it. This means if your partner does not pay their share you can be forced to pay it.

If you have a Trust of Land dispute and would like to know where you go from here, either read our ToLATA dispute guide or call us now for some sound, practical advice where we can advise you on your next steps.

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