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When an unmarried couple split, can one of them force the sale of the house?

(14 Posts)
NotActuallyAMum Thu 25-Sep-08 16:08:08

My brother has recently split with his DP

He moved in with her almost immediately. The house was jointly owned by her and her ex even though they'd been split for a few years. About 3 months later, she told him that she was so far behind with the mortgage (not to mention council tax, water, electricity, and gas was cut off) she had a 7 day repossession letter from her lender. My brother phoned them and arranged massive overpayments so that she didn't lose the house. He also bailed her out of the rest of her arrears with various companies. She hadn't previously been debt-free for over 5 years (since her ex left). They have since re-mortgaged the house to renovate it, and to get her ex off the mortgage, so it's now in joint names. My brother has done all of the work on the house himself (apart from gas which needed Corge registered people)

Now that they've split, she's refusing to sell the house and insists she's keeping it but there's no way she can afford it. My brother just wants his name off the mortgage, he's happy to walk away with nothing, but he really does want to get his name off because he knows that if she refuses to sell and tries to keep it she'll end up in a mess with everything again and it'll be repossessed. Which of course means he's blacklisted

Is there anything he can do?

NotActuallyAMum Thu 25-Sep-08 16:08:33

Meant to say there are no kids involved

expatinscotland Thu 25-Sep-08 16:09:48

as he is on the mortgage, he needs to see a solicitor.

LIZS Thu 25-Sep-08 16:11:49

Is his name on the deeds ? Until his name is off the mortgage he is as liable to pay as she is.

NotActuallyAMum Thu 25-Sep-08 16:29:49

We had thought that legal advice was the only way for him to go. Trouble is of course that'll cost him a fortune, and he doesn't think even a solicitor will be able to convince her that she can't afford to keep it. Where money's concerned she just bury's her head in the sand and thinks everything will be OK. When she first started telling him how much debt she was in she kept pulling letters out of a drawer which was crammed full of demands for money from various companies - all unopened!

And this isn't a naive teenager we're talking about, she's a 51 year old woman

Yes he's on the deeds and knows he's legally liable for the payments, but if she thinks he's going to carry on paying the mortgage that'll give her even more reason to think she can stay put

He's started to think he should just let it get repossessed, he says he'll "only" be blacklisted for 5 years. But that's not really the answer is it? They both need to sort their lives out. He's with DH and I for now, which of course is fine, but I'm sure he'll want to buy again one day

NotActuallyAMum Thu 25-Sep-08 16:30:43

buries her head blush

Tinkerisdead Thu 25-Sep-08 16:34:26

This happened to me in that i split with an ex and he didnt want the money etc. I went to see the mortgage company and had to fill in a transfer of equity form i think ( was 7 yrs ago) and solicitor to transfer the deeds. basiclaly to state that any equity in the house was mine and the deeds to remove his name. solicitor cos 150.00 as it was straightforward process to remove name without any financial mess. HTH

NotActuallyAMum Thu 25-Sep-08 16:41:07

Could you afford to take it on by yourself though TDW46? Surely they won't let her have a mortgage in her own name knowing she can't afford the repayments?

Or will they?? I hadn't thought of that. Seeing as there's about £50k equity it's hardly a risk for them is it?

Maybe she could get her own mortgage? Then it's no longer his problem

Lauriefairycake Thu 25-Sep-08 16:41:40

he will not 'only' be blacklisted for 5 years, that's misinformation for a start.

he needs to tell the lender, ask if they will accept his half of the repayments. Get a free hour with a solicitor who will probably tell him he will have to take her to court to force her to sell.

He can still carry on the repayments and go through the process of forcing her to sell. This can take 2 years if she is obstructive.

Alternatively he could go bankrupt and then the lender he owes money too could force the sale. He may then be lucky and be discharged from bankruptcy after a year. This may be the cheapest option.

Mine is just hastily typed and may be inaccurate things to consider, he definitely needs to inform the lender so that they have his new address and can see how much is being paid every month on the mortgage. And he needs proper advice, free hour at solicitor, cab, cccs etc

Tinkerisdead Thu 25-Sep-08 16:55:04

i went to the existing mortgage company and they gave me my own mortgage, to be honest at the time no i couldnt afford it on my own but they didnt check. i then had to go overdrawn etc to pay the mortgage but quickly got a new job to get my head above water but your right, they never actually vetted me. prob as you say due to the equity in the house. at the time there was 20k..
i went to the lender first and then the solicitor when i knew where i stood. i just had to get him to sign the forms which he did willingly.

mumoverseas Fri 26-Sep-08 05:27:44

Unfortunately I think the only way for him to force a sale if she won't agree is through the Courts, I think under a trusts of land application. I seem to recall that this is a last resort as it is such a long drawn out process. His best bet is to instruct a solicitor who deals with family/relationship breakdowns in the hope that a few letters from the solicitor may get her to agree to a voluntary sale.

newforold Fri 26-Sep-08 10:37:18

DO NOT advise your brother to go bankrupt! Even if he got a discharge after a yr he will find it almost impossible to get a mortgage for another 6 yrs afterwards and will always have to declare an old bankruptcy for certain things like some loan and mortgage applications.
Even if he got credit before the bankruptcy dropped off his credit file it would be at a very high interest rate.
Also, he would normally lose his bank account and only be able to open a basic account, if his car was worth more than 2k he would likely have to turn that over to the official receiver. If he works in certain proffessions he would have to declare his bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is not an easy get out clause and should never be considered unless all other options have been exhausted.

missingtheaction Fri 26-Sep-08 10:45:06

legal advice is going to cost him an awful lot less than making a mess of this. He must see a solicitor. The objective is NOT to convince her that she can't afford to keep it, it's to disentangle HIM from her upcoming financial meltdown. As they aren't married this is actually going to be a bit easier than if they were.

But an investment in legal advice right now is going to prevent an awful lot of money wasted in the future.

NotActuallyAMum Fri 26-Sep-08 12:40:15

Thank you all very much for your replies smile

missingtheaction: "The objective is NOT to convince her that she can't afford to keep it, it's to disentangle HIM from her upcoming financial meltdown" Absolutely spot on! Couldn't have put it better myself!

It's so difficult for him to know what to do for the best. There's no way he'll ever be able to afford to buy a house on what he earns so he says he'll never have to apply for a mortgage. But of course that could all change if he meets someone else (he says he's keeping away from women in future but I reckon that'll last 6 months at the most...)

Think I'll advise him to ask her to find out if her lender will do what TheDoctorsWife46 did, it worked for her after all so maybe she'll be lucky and they won't check whether she can afford the repayments. With about £50k equity (even in today's market) I don't see how they can see her as a risk

She could solve all of this herself by getting a full-time job which would mean she could afford to keep the house, but she only wants to work part-time "because she'd rather be at home". Wouldn't we all??!! Nothing to do with me though of course

Thanks again everyone smile

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