What is a TOLATA claim?
A TOLATA claim is a claim brought under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. Under the Act, the courts have the power to settle property disputes between cohabiting couples and co-owners.
A TOLATA claim could settle who owns what share of a property and who has the right to continue living in a property. The court can also decide whether a property must be sold.
If someone can prove they have beneficial ownership of a property, they may be able to bring a TOLATA claim, even if they are not named on the title deeds at the Land Registry.
Someone who has contributed financially to the purchase or upkeep of a property may have beneficial ownership. Someone who was promised a share in a property and has suffered a detriment because the promise was not fulfilled (for example, they sold their own house) may also be able to prove beneficial ownership.
Types of property ownership
There are many types of legal ownership of property. How a property is owned can affect a TOLATA claim.
Joint ownership is when two individuals jointly purchase a property. Joint owners can be married or unmarried couples, family members or friends, for example. Often people who cannot afford to get onto the property ladder by themselves may own a property in this way.
Joint tenant ownership is when two or more people purchase a property together, and they all own equal shares. If one owner passes away, the whole property is automatically transferred to the living owner or owners and cannot be left to anyone else in a will.
Tenants in common
When two or more parties own a property together, but they own unequal shares in the property, they are tenants in common. Unlike with a joint tenancy, the property does not automatically pass to the surviving owners if one person dies. Each person is entitled to pass on their share of the property to whoever they choose in their will.
TOLATA claims process
The first step in the claims process is to try to settle the dispute through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This can involve mediation or negotiation between both party’s solicitors. Mediation involves an impartial mediator facilitating discussions between the parties to help them reach an agreement themselves.
If all the parties cannot reach an agreement through alternative dispute resolution, the next steps are:
- Letter Before Claim: The claimant’s solicitor sends the opposing party a letter detailing the claimant’s legal position and stating their preferred outcome. The opposing party will have a specified amount of time to respond.
- Response: The opposing party will either agree or disagree with the claim, and their solicitor will respond.
- Negotiations and settlement: Both solicitors will negotiate the claim to try and achieve an agreed settlement without going to court. The case will be closed if all the parties agree to the settlement.
- Court: If parties cannot come to an agreement, court proceedings may commence. It is preferable to avoid this if at all possible, as it can be a costly and lengthy process. If children are involved, it can be particularly stressful. However, if a solicitor believes a case is strong enough, they may advise taking this route.
How Parkinson Wright can help you
Our team of expert solicitors can help you:
- Make a TOLATA claim: TOLATA claims often require both property and family law specialists. Our solicitors draw on legal expertise across Parkinson Wright to support your claim.
- Defend a TOLATA claim against you: If you are cohabiting with someone and they raise a dispute, we can provide you with advice on how to protect your property.
- Settle your property dispute out of court: Court is expensive and risky, which is why our lawyers take every possible step to settle matters out of court. Our experienced and skilled negotiators can help you to achieve the outcome you seek without court action.
- Protect you from a future TOLATA claim: If you are planning to purchase a property with somebody other than your spouse, please talk to our solicitors. Nobody knows what the future holds, and we can advise you on how to protect yourself from a TOLATA claim.
Why choose Parkinson Wright dispute and litigation solicitors?
TOLATA claims can be complicated, but our team of solicitors are highly experienced in this area. Whether you are making a claim or defending a claim, we have the expertise you need to achieve the right outcome.
Parkinson Wright solicitors have a number of accreditations, so you can rest assured you will receive expert legal advice and the highest level of customer service.
Solicitors Regulation AuthorityWe are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Lexcel Quality MarkWe have achieved the Law Society’s Lexcel Legal Practice quality mark, which sets the standard for client care.
Get in touch
We offer a Free Initial Assessment, so you can call us without charge or obligation to discuss how we can assist you.
To arrange your Free Initial Assessment at a time convenient to you, please call 01905 401 893.