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Can My Partner Put Our House On The Market With No Consent

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  • 23-05-2022
Can My Partner Put Our House On The Market With No Consent

Can my partner put our house on the market with no consent? Kent Property Witness offer RICS expert witness surveyor services for Tonbridge and Kent. Are you wondering if your husband or wife can sell a joint owned house? Find out more about your rights following a divorce.

Can My Husband or Wife Sell The House Without My Consent?

The question of consent when selling a freehold or leasehold property is always a messy business. Usually, this issue arises when a couple is going through a significant personal change, such as a divorce, meaning selling their house or flat can become an infinitely difficult process. 

The essence of the problem is getting two people who are divorcing one another to agree on something as big as selling their property.

This is just one example of a possible issue regarding consent to sell a property quickly, but it illustrates the point that it can be a tricky thing to deal with. There are many different ways the issue can present itself, whether a wife wishes to sell the property, but their husband doesn't, or they disagree about the method they will use to sell the property.

As you can imagine, there are numerous complicated ways in which one half of a couple may try to sell their property without the express consent of the other. 

The issue of selling a property without a spouse's consent also includes civil partnerships and is not exclusive to married couples. Therefore, all people who jointly own a home with their partner must understand the implications of consent when they want to sell that property.

Whatever relationship you might have, separating is invariably a difficult process, and emotions can run high when making big decisions like this. 

For example, if your divorce or separation is particularly hard on you and your partner, this can significantly complicate the selling process. If one partner wishes to sell a house quickly while the other wishes to remain in it, the latter may decide to pursue litigation.

This is an attempt to block the sale of the property so they can keep living in it, claiming their partner tried to initiate a sale without their consent. 

The issue of consent regarding property sales boils down to whether your partner has joint ownership of the property with you. If they do not, you are free to find a buyer and sell your home without their consent.

More specifically, if you are the only person listed on the title deeds or other documents regarding the ownership of the property, you can do as you please. As the sole owner of the property, your partner's consent isn't required to sell.

HOW DO YOU VALUE A HOUSE IN A DIVORCE?

What are home rights?

However, in the UK, the law states that even if you are the sole owner of your family home, your spouse who does not have joint ownership still has certain home rights. 

Given how difficult and messy these issues can be, home rights are designed to protect people if their spouse or partner chooses to sell their property without consent. These rights protect partners by giving them the right to live in a family home even if they are not joint owners or joint tenants. 

They cannot be forced to leave the family home by any means other than being served with an occupation order. Such an order determines who is specifically allowed to live in the family home or which areas of the family home they are allowed to enter. 

A spouse or partner must register their home rights beforehand to be protected by them and cannot enter into them after their partner has chosen to sell the property.

Alternatively, suppose one spouse does not currently live in the family home. In that case, they can gain permission to enter the property and live there completely free by appealing to the courts, independently of the other spouse.

Here is a specific example of how home rights work:

 Partner A and partner B are married and live together in a 3-bedroom family home.

 Partner A purchased the property before they were married and is the sole owner registered on the title deeds.

 Partners A and B have recently split, and partner A has asked partner B to leave the property.

 However, partner B has nowhere to live apart from the family home. Luckily, partner B has registered their home rights, meaning that even though they do not own the family home, they still have a right to occupy the property, regardless of what partner A wishes.

Again, it is crucial to remember that even though one partner or spouse has home rights to continue living in their family home, they must register these home rights if they wish to fully protect themselves if they are asked to leave. 

Why do I need to register my home rights?

It is so important to register your home rights if you are not a joint owner of your family home because these rights will be documented on the legal paperwork for the house.

Therefore, other parties, such as the UK Land Registry, banks and any potential buyers of the property, can see that you have home rights to remain in your family home.

It also ensures that your partner cannot mortgage or sell your family home without notifying you first. Without registering your home rights, your partner or spouse is free to mortgage or sell your family home without notifying you.

If this is the case, you may have to leave the property with no rights or protections if your partner chooses to sell the property as the sole owner.

Not only this but without sufficient protection and rights in place, you may also be restricted when claiming finances during your divorce. 

Can My Husband Put Our House On The Market - Tonbridge and Kent

How can I find out whether my spouse owns the home?

Before you rush out to register your home rights, it is important to check whether your spouse is the sole owner of the property first. The easiest way to do this is to check the legal documents for your family home to see who is listed as an owner. If you don't have these, you can request copies from the Land Registry.

Official copies that you can request apply only to the registered land, not the title deeds, and are copies of the land register for your particular family home. On the other hand, title deeds apply to the unregistered land. Essentially, your title deeds are a selection of documents that detail the property's history. This is where you will find information on who the registered owner of the property is. 

What is joint ownership of one property?

Having defined what it means to be a sole owner of a property and the legal rights that distinction gives you, it will also be valuable to define what joint ownership or joint tenancy of a family home is specifically.

Simply having your name on the mortgage repayments does not entitle you to ownership of the house. Instead, to be a fully-fledged co-owner of your home, you will need to have both your partner's and your name on the title deeds for the property.

Not many people know this, which is why it is so valuable to understand if you will be living with your partner in a family home.

Being named in the repayments simply means you are responsible for paying for the property but has nothing to do with joint ownership.

Can my partner put our house on the market with no consent?

Knowing this will mean you are better prepared for eventualities in the future, such as if your partner chooses to force the sale of the house. Granted, you are limited in what you can do in this instance, given that you have no ownership stake, but you will know where you stand regarding any legal proceedings. 

Can I force the sale of my house?

If you are determined to sell your house, there are certain circumstances that allow you to force the sale of your property. However, as we have already mentioned in this article, you cannot legally sell without the consent of your civil partner or spouse if your spouse's signature is listed on the title deeds for the property as a joint owner with yourself.

If only your name is listed on the official copies and title deeds for your home, you are officially the sole owner of the property. In this case, you are free to sell the property whenever you like, without requesting or waiting for the consent of your partner or spouse. But selling is not the only thing you are allowed to do with your property.

As the sole owner, you are also free to rent or mortgage your property without the express consent of your spouse or partner. Legally you can do whatever you like with your property, all without requesting consent. You can therefore see how valuable it is to be listed as the sole owner of a property, even if you are sharing it with a partner.

Of course, you can share ownership if you do not see any difficulties in your relationship on the horizon. But if they occur, it can make deciding what to do with the house incredibly difficult. If you have different ideas about what is best for the property, you may have to go through a lengthy legal process before any decisions can be made by either you or your partner. 

What can your spouse do if you are looking to sell?

Just as those who aren't listed as owners on a property's title deeds shouldn't rush into any decisions given their precarious position, sole owners equally shouldn't rush to sell their property without checking a few things first. The most important thing to check as a sole owner is whether your partner has registered any home rights. These can block you from selling your property, even if you are the sole person listed on the property's legal documents.

Again, home rights give your spouse or partner the right to stay in the property regardless of whether you want to sell it or not. This will obviously block any plans you have of selling for a set amount of time. If your partner has registered for home rights, the Land Registry will let you know. They will also provide a little information on what this means for you as the sole owner of your home.

However, there are legal methods you can use to regain the right to sell your property, even if your partner has registered home rights. Another factor that may complicate things is if your partner, who is not a registered owner of the house, has made payments towards it.

This can include mortgage payments, renovations, construction work, home improvements and extensions.

If your partner has made any payments of this kind, they can apply to the courts for an occupation order, which is a court order that allows them to remain living in the property.

However, occupation orders are tricky, and one party or both will most likely require a solicitor to work one out for them. This is a lengthy and costly process for all the people involved.

Additionally, if the court finds that your partner has invested in the property, they may find it in their favour. Even if you are allowed to sell the property, in this case, your partner will be entitled to a share of the property's value given their investments.

As you can imagine, this is quite a complex area of property law, especially given the numerous ways that married couples may make their living arrangements and finances.

The circumstances and contributing factors will vary widely between cases, meaning if your disagreements over your property get to this stage, it is always best to seek legal advice.

Legal professionals can provide independent legal advice and recommendations on what is best in your particular situation.

WHAT CAN YOUR SPOUSE DO IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO SELL?

Can a joint owner force a sale? 

If you are the joint owner of a property, there is no way you can sell, rent or mortgage it without the consent of your partner or spouse. 

There is no legal way around this fact, though a few options are open to joint owners, where one partner wishes to sell their property after an independent valuation. The first option is to make an offer to buy your partner's share of the property and exchange contracts.

This will make you the sole owner of the property, meaning you can sell it whenever you like. Of course, this may be expensive, but it is worth it if you plan to sell the house straight away. 

Before you start haggling with your partner, it is always best to have your property independently evaluated by estate agents or property experts so you can make an accurate cash offer for your spouse's share of the home at a fair price.

The second option is for you and your partner to agree that it is best to sell the property. This is the easiest way to resolve any joint ownership issues, as you will both be able to settle on an agreed price for the property and how any profit from the sale will be split. 

Naturally, this split should mirror the ownership shares either of you has in the property. For example, if you have a larger share than your partner, you should receive a greater portion of the percentage splits.

The final option, and possibly the most difficult and expensive, is to begin division court action before moving on to the sale of your property. 

This is the last resort and should only be undertaken if you are at a dead end. This is your only option to try and sell your property if your partner refuses to cooperate and agree on what should be done with your home.

Even if you and your partner end up in court debating over what should be done with your property, it is always better to settle outside of court with your respective legal representatives. This will invariably be much cheaper for you than settling inside the court and allows you to maintain greater control of what happens to your property.

The situation is in your hands, given that neither of you may come out with a favourable decision if the court decides for you.


Are you looking for advice about property valuation following a divorce for Tonbridge and Kent? 

Contact us and give us a call about any information or advice about property valuation.