Property is legally owned and beneficially owned. The legal owner is usually straightforward to ascertain as they are the person or company which appears on the Land Registry as the registered proprietor. The beneficial owner is much more difficult to determined, as they may not be registered with the Land Registry but may have beneficial ownership by virtue of financial contributions to the property, agreements or through having occupied the property.
What is the legal basis for a claim for an interest in a property where you are not recognised as the legal owner?
There are several bases upon which a claim can be made. All of the bases upon which a person or company can be entitled to beneficial ownership are too numerous to set out here, but these are some common examples:
- constructive trust claims: where there has been some express agreement between the purchasers as to how the property will be purchased, owned and dealt with, or sold which has not been adhered to or recognised the ownership claimed.
- resulting trust claims: where there has been some financial contribution to the property (giving rise to an interest in the property) but no express agreements have been reached with regard to ownership.
What situations commonly give rise to claims for an interest in property?
Common situations include:
- Unmarried partners who have purchased property together;
- Purchases of property with family members; and
- Joint purchases of investment property by business colleagues, partnerships or friends.
How can a beneficial owner become a legal owner?
A beneficial owner is not seeking to gain anything they do not already have, all that they are seeking is recognition. In order to be recognised, a beneficial owner needs to seek a declaration from the court which will then be used to rectify the property’s records with the Land Registry.
If you think you have a beneficial interest in a property which has not been recognised, please contact our experienced team of property disputes solicitors for further advice. We offer a fixed fee interview and can advise you of the best way ahead.