Q&As

A couple have been allowed to live with a family member for 12 months in a property which is owned by that family member. They have not paid any rent, but have paid for some repairs. The owner of the house now wishes to sell the house, but the couple are refusing to leave until they are compensated for the repairs. Can the couple be described as lodgers, and can the owner therefore change locks and take back possession?

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Published on LexisPSL on 30/10/2020

The following Property Disputes Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A couple have been allowed to live with a family member for 12 months in a property which is owned by that family member. They have not paid any rent, but have paid for some repairs. The owner of the house now wishes to sell the house, but the couple are refusing to leave until they are compensated for the repairs. Can the couple be described as lodgers, and can the owner therefore change locks and take back possession?
  • Beneficial interest
  • Possession

Beneficial interest

Regarding whether or not there is any argument that any sort of trust has arisen, where property is held in the name of one party only, that person is presumed to be the owner of the entire beneficial interest as well, unless (in the absence of an express declaration of trust) another party can establish an interest under an implied, ie a resulting or ‘common intention’ constructive trust or by the operation of a proprietary estoppel. The party alleging an interest has the burden of proving it. Claims are made under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA 1996). Any person who has an interest under a trust of land may apply to the court under TOLATA 1996, s 14 for an order under that section. The court may make such order as it thinks fit in relation to the nature or extent of a person’s interest in the trust property. See Practice Note: Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

A resulting trust generally requires contribution to the initial purchase price and therefore where later or unanticipated financial contributions are made, the non-owning party is more likely to try to rely on a common intention constructive trust, where later contributions can be taken into account. While conduct sufficient to justify the inference of a common intention has

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