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Possessory title

(11 Posts)
Whisper23 Sun 09-Jul-17 22:46:00

(Posted in Legal Matters as well but no replies so far so trying here for traffic)

There's a messy property situation in my family that is likely to cause a major fall out in the near future. I'm hoping someone will be able to help me understand what's happening.

My grandparents bought a house in the 1960s. Apparently they bought it outright, no mortgage (not sure whether this is relevant). My aunt (I'll call her A) lived there with her parents. GF died in 1979, no will apparently. GM died in 1990, again no will apparently. A continued to live in the house and has done ever since. A has 2 siblings, a sister (I'll call S) and a brother (I'll call B), both are married with kids, have their own properties etc. Apparently there was a conversation around the time that GM died about the house being sold and split between the 3 of them but A didn't want to move so nothing was done. Nothing has ever been formalised. There has been some bad feeling about it from S and B over the years but they never did anything about it.

Fast forward 27 years. A is now elderly and wants to downsize to something more manageable (the house is large, 5 beds).

Nobody knows where the deeds to the house are, seems they are lost. Solicitor has checked the land registry, not registered, which apparently isn't unusual for properties bought prior to the 1970s.

Solicitor says A can apply for possessory title because she has lived in the house for the last 27 years. I've done a bit of googling about this but I'm struggling to understand what the implications are in this particular situation.

Would possessory title mean that A owns the house outright? Or would S & B still be entitled to a third each? Will this need to be unravelled all the way back to GF death in 1979 in order to sort it out?

A will be having another appointment with the solicitor soon and I've offered to go with her as she gets very confused nowadays. I'd like to get a bit of an understanding before the appointment. Can anyone help?

DancingLedge Sun 09-Jul-17 23:02:34

(Not a lawyer)
My understanding of possessory title in UK, is this is what the Land Registry grants when there's not 100% evidence that you are the owner. As here, when the deeds to an unregistered property are lost.After a number of years, if no other claiment pops up, it will get converted to title absolute. ( the title that most of us have to our properties)

This is a separate issue to whose names it should be in. Aunt can show she's lived there for yonks, so stands to gain possessory title. Unless she is saying to the Land Registry that in fact 3 people should jointly share the title, LR will probably award it to A. In whose name/s is the application being made?
Siblings need legal advice.Or risk losing what they regard as their share.
They need to ask solicitor whether they stand any chance, which they might, and get a caution against first registration issued asap.

If there's any argument over who should profit from the house, each party must get their own legalrepresentation.Quickly.

Whisper23 Sun 09-Jul-17 23:09:51

Thanks for replying.

A is making the application in her sole name at the moment.

So the siblings can object to A being granted possessory title? Is that what a "caution against first registration" is? They need to get their own solicitors then.

What a mess. I'm stuck in the middle of it. Fat chance of me staying out of it.

DancingLedge Sun 09-Jul-17 23:33:31

Well strictly speaking the caution won't necessarily prevent A being given possessory title, but in practice it sends the LR a huge red flag, that there may be more than one claimant to the title.

The lost deeds and possessory title are the piece of cake, compared to the family wrangle about who the house belongs to. No wills, and the intestacy rules should apply.

Yes, in the middle is very uncomfortable. Make sure each gets legal advice. Then try to get them to negotiate on how much each ends up with- so very much better than courts, and making lawyers richer.

Just to add to your joy, anyone who ends up with money from the house, but hasn't been living in it, may , or may not, end up with a Capital Gains Tax liability - again, don't try to figure this out yourselves, get tax accountant /tax lawyer advice- there may be a route that means there is less tax to pay, depending exactly on the agreement reached, and what order things are done in.
I don't like paying a lot of money for advice, but something as complex as this situation, I think it will really pay off.
Best of luck.

Whisper23 Sun 09-Jul-17 23:39:03

Thanks, I really appreciate your advice. I just hope it can all be sorted out amicably, though I have my doubts.

DancingLedge Sun 09-Jul-17 23:53:13

Strictly speaking, if there are 3 offspring, and parents die intestate, it's 1/3 each.
In human terms, someone who's lived in the house so long , should surely have their current housing needs met first.

ChristinaParsons Mon 10-Jul-17 00:02:26

There will be a conveyance from when your grandparents bought. Try and find this. Land reg will have a copy even if property is unregistered. Although they they don't like moving from a computer to the archives so you will have to be firm. If both grandparents died intestate then yes property will be divided between all siblings. But proving ownership to grandparents is first step

GU24Mum Mon 10-Jul-17 07:48:37

The Land Registry won't have any paperwork if the property is unregistered - that's the reason there's a problem! Until a property is registered, the original deeds are all there is.

It sounds as though the Land Reg will register the house in A's name with possessory title and that if the siblings want to put in a claim, they'll have to do that but any interest they have is likely to be in the sale proceeds of the house rather than them being registered along with A.

Whisper23 Mon 10-Jul-17 11:10:54

Thanks for the replies.

So it sound like possessory title being granted to A is a foregone conclusion. I'll see what the solicitor says about S & B's interests. And I'll suggest they get their own legal advice.

FWIW, I agree with Dancing Ledge that A's housing needs should be the priority but I suspect B will not agree. S will probably be reasonable about it but I doubt B will.

HipsterHunter Mon 10-Jul-17 11:29:07

*Strictly speaking, if there are 3 offspring, and parents die intestate, it's 1/3 each.
In human terms, someone who's lived in the house so long , should surely have their current housing needs met first.*

Or you could say that they had ample time to plan ahead having received the benefit of housing for years which was actually only 1.3 theirs.

Whisper23 Mon 10-Jul-17 11:39:09

Or you could say that they had ample time to plan ahead having received the benefit of housing for years which was actually only 1.3 theirs.

Yep, I see that point of view as well.

Then add in the fact that A has spent a lot of money on the house over the last 27 years and it gets even harder to work out what's fair.

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