Ask Our Experts – Q & A on Property Law with Paul Westwell

Title change

Q. My wife and I bought our present house in 1982 and I see that it was conveyed to us as “tenants in common.” We feel it would now be appropriate for us to hold the property as “joint tenants”. Would it be legally recognised if we drew up a document ourselves changing the form of ownership to joint tenants?

A. Solicitor would need to check the legal title to see how the property is held and if the property is registered. There may be a restriction placed on the title which will need to be removed and an explanation given to the Land Registry why you no longer wish to hold the property this way. A further Declaration may be necessary and a Solicitor will assist with this.

Home hope

Q. My landlord offered me the right to buy my house on condition that I made my mind up within ten days. I didn’t manage to sort it out in such a short space of time and he now says he won’t sell: can he just withdraw his offer like that?

A. Unfortunately, contracts for selling a property need to be in writing and signed to be enforced. If your Landlord is a private Landlord then he can change his mind unless there is a signed contract in place.

Doubling up

Q. It’s common practice these days for insurers to include on renewals an additional premium of around £15 for legal expenses cover. I currently have legal expenses cover on both my car and home contents policies: do I really need two lots of legal expenses cover?

A. It is important that you carefully check what kind of claims each policy covers. It is likely the legal expenses cover with your motor policy will only cover claims to do with your vehicle. The legal expenses with your home insurance is likely to cover a wider range of disputes such as neighbour disputes, employment disputes and faulty goods advice.

Debt ever after

Q. Our house was repossessed four years ago. Now the mortgage people have been on to us to see if they can recover any more money. They have already sold the house and taken our life insurance policies and everything else they could get their hands on. What can we do? Would it be advisable to go bankrupt?

A. In there was a shortfall after our home and policies were sold, then in general terms the mortgage company can pursue you if they haven’t left it too long. You could negotiate payment of a fixed fee over a period of time, but it should be affordable. If is it not affordable, then bankruptcy may be the way of “wiping the slate clean.” However, bankruptcy has a lot of effects and you should see legal advice before doing this. You can also consider a formal debt plan or arrangement, or an IVA.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.