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Can I Legally Force My Ex to Sell Our Property?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 7 Dec 2018 |
 
Divorce Marital Home Solicitor Joint

Q.

Please can you let me know whether I can legally force my husband to sell our property, he has been very difficult and unco-operative. He is not paying enough of the mortgage which it has now gone into arrears. We have no children under the age of 23.

(B.G, 21 April 2009)

A.

I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties with your husband. This is obviously not a situation that should be allowed to continue because sooner or later the lender will start to ask questions about the arrears.

Seek Legal Advice

The answer to your question depends on numerous factors but I would advise you to see a solicitor as early as possible. The best way to do this in the first instance is to ask the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for a list of local solicitors who will be able to give you half an hours worth of free legal advice.

Separation/Divorce

I am unable to determine from your question as to whether you and your husband are still together and living in the same house. If you are separated it also may be sensible to seek advice from your lawyer about what would happen in the event that you divorced your husband (I assume you aren’t already divorced) and the way in which your shared assets and your home would be split.

If your relationship has broken down, and both of you own your home as ‘joint tenants’ the first thing you would need to do is sever the tenancy to make you ‘tenants in common.’ Your solicitor will be better placed to advise you on this.

Forcing the Sale

What I can tell you is that if you own your house jointly in a ‘trust for sale’ you may be able to force the sale of the property. This is done by applying for a court order that would in effect allow for the property to be sold, and would provide a timescale within which it should be sold.

What You Should Do

At this stage, you should make a note of the way in which your husband is being un-cooperative, and in as much detail as possible what he has done to get you into this situation. This will be very useful for your solicitor in the event that you do need to apply for a court order.

I really think it’s best that you go and seek legal advice straight away. Good luck.

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me and my wife have split up we have 2 kids. can I sell or buy our marital home. wife doesn't want to move out or remove my name from mortgage. she owns another property. I want to know if I have rights or am i entitled to anything. thanks stuart
mag00 - 22-Nov-18 @ 11:39 AM
My ex wife moved out of the family home 17 years ago. She has since remarried and owns her own home. Can I sell the house without her? Is she entitled to any?
Caz - 16-Nov-18 @ 1:40 PM
My ex and I have been split up for around 14 years but she still lives in our joint house with my son who is 16 now. She refuses to sell the house. The council have paid the interest only on this mortgage so she hasn’t contributed to most of the running costs. While I have had to rent another house which is 3 x the cost of the mortgage on our house. I can’t buy another house though because I can’t afford the increase in stamp duty due to my name being on another mortgage and it is then classed as a second home. I also need the money from the equity for a deposit on a house. What are my rights? Would a court look in favour of her due to my son only being 16? And still in education? Thank you
Dave - 7-Oct-18 @ 9:17 PM
My ex-moved out of the property joint owners 20 years ago, Hehas his own property he lives in and now he wants to force me to sell my home because he wants his share, he has not paid the mortgage I all that time - nothing can he force me to sell, we were not married
munchkin - 1-Oct-18 @ 6:07 PM
Hello, My girlfriend and I have been together for over 5 years. She left her ex-husband as she discovered he was having an affair. He allowed him to remain in the family home which she is names on the mortgage and the agreement was that he paid for her half of the mortgage in return for her not receiving and child support money. This week the mortgage company have written to her and asked to contact them as they knew she doesn't live in the property and never had our contact details. On calling them they let us know that the property is in severe arrears and legal action has started. Her ex-husband maintains he will pay it all off but this will never happen he's just lying to stop her from taking action. Do we need a solicitor to apply to the court to force the sale of the property through? It will either get repossessed or we have time to sell. Any help would be greatful.
Cosh - 26-Sep-18 @ 9:41 AM
Hello I recently split with my partner of 7 years. We are looking to sell our property. She is insisting we sell it to her mom for a lot less than it is valued at. I have said no and want it to go on market at full valued price. I am in my rights to say no to her mom? Also her mom gave us some money for the deposit and signed a gifted deposit letter saying she will not expect this money back. She is now asking for this 6k back? Surely i don't have to give it her? The reason we split is because she had an affair. Thank you.
Jsf - 21-Sep-18 @ 2:31 PM
colin - Your Question:
Can I legally force my wife to sell her flat.

Our Response:
Much depends upon the situation, how long you have been married for, whether you are the joint owner, how long she owned the flat prior to marriage? We cannot answer a question on such sparse information.
DivorceResource - 10-Sep-18 @ 3:27 PM
can I legally force my wife to sell her flat.
colin - 10-Sep-18 @ 11:31 AM
Gk - Your Question:
I recently found out my ex fiancé cheated on me so I left for a month and now how moved back in she is threating me with a non molestation order even though I have done nothing wrong we own half the house and asked for 30000 to move out which she keeps saying will take a while even though I could pay her the money within 10 weeks we also have two children 6 and 9 what are my options?

Our Response:
If you both own the house, then both of you are entitled to live under the same roof. If there is any domestic violence in the house as a result of arguments etc, please see the link here . As a general rule, the primary carer of the children (the parent who looks after the children on a day-to-day basis) is given priority by the courts as the person who can remain in the home with the children (the court will always put the child’s best interests first). You can see more about what happens to the home on separation via the link here . You may also wish to seek legal advice regarding this matter in order to fully explore your options.
DivorceResource - 3-Sep-18 @ 4:09 PM
I recently found out my ex fiancé cheated on me so I left for a month and now how moved back in she is threating me with a non molestation order even though I have done nothing wrong we own half the house and asked for 30000 to move out which she keeps saying will take a while even though I could pay her the money within 10 weeks we also have two children 6 and 9 what are my options?
Gk - 29-Aug-18 @ 7:09 PM
My ex husband has been paid most of his settlement I want to sell the house but he won’t sign the contract so I can sell and pay the last bit of the money he seems to be holding me over a barrel and is acting like a bully. Since we split 12 years ago I have paid the mortgage and maintained the property. The house price has increased in value which he has noticed would he be able to take anymore from the house it’s still in joint names
Fred - 26-Aug-18 @ 10:02 AM
My wife moved out around 8 months ago of the marital home which we were paying a mortgage as she was having an affair and decided torent somewhere else.She has now been asked to leave the property and has requested that I leave the marital home so she can move back.I have refused this request but have told her that I could not stop her from moving back if that was what she wanted.She has refused this request and now wants to sell the house and informed me that she can do this without my consent.Can she do this?
Billy - 25-Aug-18 @ 7:17 PM
I have been seperated from my ex for over 7 years and moved out leaving my children and her living there i was told i canot forse sale of the house until my youngest is 18 im now married and want to move on in my life but cannot get a mortgage because my name is still on the house i own with my ex. Is there anything i can do to get my money from the house and my name off the mortgage
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voirel - 23-Aug-18 @ 9:31 PM
Oliver - Your Question:
I separated from my ex 4 years ago due to her having an affair. She asked me to leave the FMH which we have a joint mortgage. We also have two children under the age of 18 who still live in the FMH with their mother. She has now moved the person she had the affair with into our FMH and has also had a child to that person. I have moved on and met someone and wish to buy somewhere with them but unable currently to get a mortgage as still have joint mortgage with ex. Currently I live with my elderly parents and my children stay every week. My ex says she can’t get her own mortgage as she has a lot of debt that she occurred after I moved out but that was her buying new stuff for the house for her and her new baby and baby’s Dad. I need to move forward with my life and out of my Parents but feel like she has me over a barrel as our children are not yet 18, however they are teenagers. If I can get my own place with my new partner my children will have their own bedrooms with us.

Our Response:
Your commitment in the first place is to the mortgage lender. Unless your ex is willing to sell or can afford to buy you out it means you are in a stalemate position. Mediation may be the way forward in order to try to find a way around the situation.
DivorceResource - 17-Aug-18 @ 10:25 AM
I separated from my ex 4 years ago due to her having an affair. She asked me to leave the FMH which we have a joint mortgage. We also have two children under the age of 18 who still live in the FMH with their mother. She has now moved the person she had the affair with into our FMH and has also had a child to that person. I have moved on and met someone and wish to buy somewhere with them but unable currently to get a mortgage as still have joint mortgage with ex. Currently I live with my elderly parents and my children stay every week. My ex says she can’t get her own mortgage as she has a lot of debt that she occurred after I moved out but that was her buying new stuff for the house for her and her new baby and baby’s Dad. I need to move forward with my life and out of my Parents but feel like she has me over a barrel as our children are not yet 18, however they are teenagers. If I can get my own place with my new partner my children will have their own bedrooms with us.
Oliver - 16-Aug-18 @ 8:01 PM
Mick - Your Question:
My wife left our home nearly 10 months ago to move in with another man. Our house is in danger of reposession but she wont sign the paperwork to sell it. can I force her to

Our Response:
You would have to refer the matter to court in order to force the issue. A solicitor's letter saying you will if she doesn't sign by a certain date may help.
DivorceResource - 16-Aug-18 @ 2:47 PM
My wife left our home nearly 10 months ago to move in with another man . Our house is in danger of reposession but she wont sign the paperwork to sell it .. can i force her to
Mick - 16-Aug-18 @ 10:09 AM
@Almost there. You've agreed the price, if he refuses to sign the only option open to you is to apply to court to stop him delaying. It's unlikely he will be granted the additional equity if he's been playing for time. Otherwise, it could go on forever, somewhere the line has to be drawn.
FeeT - 13-Aug-18 @ 2:46 PM
Ok so we agreed to divorce last year but my husband has really delayed the whole process.He moved out in June 2017 and I continued to pay the mortgage and we agreed a 50:50 split of equity totalling £160k to him which I paid him by remortgaging the house in my sole name and borrowing from family/friends.This was agreed with his solicitor and allowed him to move out and find his own place. He is renting until he can buy. A year on and the divorce is not finalised due to his delaying tactics BUT the house has gone up another £50k in value ..London prices!My ex now wants more money (another £25k) which I can't afford as I can't re-mortgage or borrow any more.What do I do?
Almost there - 10-Aug-18 @ 2:09 PM
Had enough - Your Question:
I walked out of my home 8 years ago , as I could not my stand my husband's unbearable behaviour, he is still living in our home as he had heart problems I said he could stay till he sorted himself out , but I need to find my own 0lace to live now as my daughter has started her own family and there is no room for me now ,my husband will not sell the house and has let it get into a shocking state ! Never spent a penny on anything , it is still the same as when I left except nothing works now , no shower , cooker broke , thread bare carpets , junk everywhere , he cannot afford to buy me out , wgobis going to buy a house like this ?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, this happens a lot, especially if one person is unable to properly manage on their own both physically and perhaps mentally. However, there is always a market even for homes that are in disrepair, in fact they can be snapped up at the right price. If you wish to force your husband to sell, then your only recourse is to take the matter to court. You would have to request to the court that the house is sold by a specific time frame. However, you may wish to seek legal advice to see whether you have a case as your husband's ill health may cause a problem if he is deemed too ill to move.
DivorceResource - 7-Aug-18 @ 1:56 PM
I walked out of my home 8 years ago , as i could not my stand my husband's unbearable behaviour, he is still living in our home as he had heart problems I said he could stay till he sorted himself out , but I need to find my own 0lace to live now as my daughter has started her own family and there is no room for me now ,my husband will not sell the house and has let it get into a shocking state ! Never spent a penny on anything , it is still the same as when I left except nothing works now , no shower , cooker broke , thread bare carpets , junk everywhere , he cannot afford to buy me out , wgobis going to buy a house like this ?
Had enough - 7-Aug-18 @ 9:55 AM
James - Your Question:
The court signed off a financial resolution after the divorce and the value has been split amicably between both parties. The house is on the market as ordered but a year on has not sold. Access is not available to the party not living in the FMH so it is not known if the house is being marketed attractively.Is there anything that can be done to force the occupying party to drop the price or do something to make it attract potential buyers? There is no mortgage. But the party who does not live there can not move on and buy another home without their share of the equity.Or does this drag on forever?

Our Response:
Has the party not living there contacted the estate agents to see if viewings are taking place? The only other alternative, is for the person not residing there is to send a solicitor's letter stating that after a year it might be presumed the person living there is attempting to prevent a sale, therefore if no sale is forthcoming within a specific amount of time then the matter will be taken back to court. A court can put a time limit on a sale where it thinks a person is deliberatley evading a sale. It does happen. Some people either don't encourage the estate agents to push the property, evade viewings/ refuse offers or try to put off potential buyers etc in other ways such as through a deliberate managed decline of the property. If the house is on the market with an estate agent, the estate agent may give out information if the non-resident person is part-owner. This can then be used as evidence in court.
DivorceResource - 6-Aug-18 @ 11:36 AM
The court signed off a financial resolution after the divorce and the value has been split amicably between both parties. The house is on the market as ordered but a year on has not sold. Access is not available to the party not living in the FMH so it is not known if the house is being marketed attractively. Is there anything that can be done to force the occupying party to drop the price or do something to make it attract potential buyers? There is no mortgage. But the party who does not live there can not move on and buy another home without their share of the equity. Or does this drag on forever?
James - 5-Aug-18 @ 11:36 AM
Geoff - Your Question:
Hi, my wife left me 12 months ago saying that she no longer loves me. 2 weeks later she moved back in, though she sleeps on the couch because she missed our children 11 and 16.We are in the process of getting a divorce but mediation has stopped because the only person giving any ground was me. Both of the children want to stay in the family home that I bought and pay for. My questions are1. Can she force me to sell the family home?2. Is there any way that I can legally get her to leave so that we can move on with our lives?3. Should I be charging her rent?

Our Response:
Much depends upon who is deemed the primary carer of your children (the person who receives child benefit and/or who does most of the day-to-day care of the children). If your wife is considered the day to day primary carer, then she can request to stay in the family home until your youngest child leaves full-time education (as can you if you are the primary carer). If your wife is not the primary carer, then you can request that she moves home but she is as entitled as much as you to stay. If you wish to remain the primary carer and you are going through a divorce you may have to come to a financial agreement that makes it attractive for her to leave. However, many families continue to live under the same roof if they cannot come to a financial agreement. With regards to charging her rent; your wife theoretically owns half the house but you can ask her to contribute financially. Mediation might be an option to consider in order to iron out your difficulties via a third person.
DivorceResource - 3-Aug-18 @ 2:16 PM
Hi, my wife left me 12 months ago saying that she no longer loves me. 2 weeks later she moved back in, though she sleeps on the couch because she missed our children 11 and 16. We are in the process of getting a divorce but mediation has stopped because the only person giving any ground was me. Both of the children want to stay in the family home that I bought and pay for. My questions are 1. Can she force me to sell the family home? 2. Is there any way that I can legally get her to leave so that we can move on with our lives? 3. Should I be charging her rent?
Geoff - 3-Aug-18 @ 1:34 AM
Hi, any advice.Am now divorced with court order splitting the 3 properties, marital home to him and one rental and one rental to me.I have to get him off my mortgage.He is now being difficult in signing the transfer of equity form on my rental, as he has to pay for a solicitor to witness his signature.He is selling his rental and I have had to sign the estate agent contract, but will I also have to sign a Transfer of Equity form?Can I use this as leverage to get him to sign my forms?Any tips on my ability to get him to play ball?What are the conveyancing rules? TIA
Dozey - 31-Jul-18 @ 1:03 PM
My friend is getting divorced she and her soon to be ex are both polish. The divorce is happening in England. The question is. My friend owns land in poland that is titled to her with a residential order for her dad to live on the land as well in polish law he has no claim to this land. Her soon to be ex is tring to get her to sell the land or give him half. Can a British court make that decision to make her sell when a polish court would not even entertain the idea
Wondering - 24-Jul-18 @ 3:15 PM
Frustrated.com - Your Question:
I left my violent ex husband 10 years ago with nothing but my hand bag and car. We’ve been divorced 8 years now. He divorced me as I couldn’t afford to divorce him and he was keen to remarry. He lives in out former family home which we hold a joint mortgage on we also have a joint mortgage on a second property which he rents out and collects all the profit. I now am remarried to a wonderful man and I’d like to cut ties with my ex completely as in selling the properties or him buying me out. I’ve tried several times to approach this subject with him and it would appear he is happy for me to just hand them over however there is equity of around 60k between the 2 and I feel I am entitled to my share of this. Please help!

Our Response:
If your ex will not discuss the matter, then your only recourse is to apply to court for a decision.
DivorceResource - 23-Jul-18 @ 2:00 PM
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