Cohabitant claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996—client guide
Cohabitant claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996—client guide

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Cohabitant claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996—client guide
  • Who can apply?
  • Who has an interest in property?
  • What steps should be taken before issuing an application?
  • What is the court procedure?
  • What are Part 36 offers?

This document provides general guidance regarding the property rights of cohabitants and claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. Your family lawyer will be able to provide specific advice based on your circumstances.

Who can apply?

Cohabitants do not have the same rights to make property claims as married couples or civil partners. Instead, disputes between cohabitants regarding their interests in a property are determined in accordance with the law of trusts. The 'common law' wife or husband does not exist in law, and claims by cohabitants are very limited in comparison with spouses or civil partners. In some circumstances it may be possible to make a claim on behalf of a child (see: Financial arrangements for children—client guide).

There are two main ways in which a cohabitant may have an interest in a property:

  1. as a joint owner, or

  2. where the property is in the sole ownership of the other cohabitant, under a trust, whether expressly stated or otherwise

In some circumstances a cohabitant who has a potential interest in a property may make an application to the court under legislation called the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA 1996) if the legal owner of the property does not recognise their interest.