Can ex deny me access to jointly owned house?

I still own a property with my ex. After splitting up I remained in the property for 3 months but he made it unbearable for me to live there with his aggressive, intimidating behavior. He was the one who ended the relationship after almost 5 years together. I moved out for my own health and sanity and I am currently renting elsewhere. I am still jointly named on the property and on the mortgage. I still have a large sum of money tied up in the property.

I understand that it is illegal to change the locks on the property. Is this the case? And would this be the case if he denies me access to the property? I.e. by changing the house alarm code on me?

The last time I went to the house to remove some of my belongings, my ex had changed the house alarm code. When I entered the property the alarm went off. I entered the code we had always used but the alarm did not de-activate. I rang him to tell him the alarm had gone off and the code was not working and asked him what the code was. He told me he did not know! The alarm continued to go off for 40 mins whilst I was at the property before it re-set itself. Despite trying the code several times the alarm did not de-activate. Shortly after this the police arrived to question me in my own home about what was going on. Since then he has denied changing the alarm code from the original code. I have researched on the internet and know that the alarm should have de-activated as soon as the correct code was entered even if I had accidentally miss-typed it the first time.

He is continuing to be totally unreasonable with the whole situation. I am the one who is trying to sort the whole issue out and either get the house sold or come to an agreement that one of us is buying the other out. I am worried that I may have given up some of my rights by moving out and removing my belongings from the property. Is this the case?

It continues to be a very stressful situation as we are not talking and he is being totally unreasonable and not open to any form of discussion or negotiation.

Please can someone help!?



  • RadoJo
    RadoJo Posts: 1,828 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    edited 2 January 2011 at 5:56PM
    I can't give specific advice, but it sounds like a situation where you would need a solicitor to draw up a long term agreement on what is going to happen with the house so you and your ex can try to avoid any unnecessary confrontations in the future. Good luck - it sounds as though it might be difficult, but at least once it's done, you can make the break a little cleaner!

    ETA to the best of my knowledge, your ex shouldn't deny you access to a house you still own, so you do have right on your side, but you will probably be better off addressing the long term situation rather than going over the details of this specific incident again.
  • clearingout
    clearingout Posts: 3,290 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    You own the house so yes, you have a right to access it and as such, yes, it is 'illegal' to change the locks. You could in fact change them again by getting a locksmith out so you had a set of keys but you'd have to give him a set so he could get in himself. The only way round this is getting yourself an Occupation Order but to do so you will have to go to Court and say you a) need the house more than he does (would only really work at this point if you were unable to pay your rent and you had children of the marriage to house) or b) he weren't living there himself.

    Your ex has a right to live in the house until you legally manage to sort something out. You could move back in there - nothing stopping you (except your sanity, perhaps!). He has a right to live there in peace without you coming and going at all hours and disturbing him. Most splitting partners would do something by mutual arrangement so he agrees you can go into to remove your stuff whilst he's out at work one day. It would be reasonable, I guess, to change the alarm code if he didn't want you to enter to remove everything whilst he was out (not unheard of!) although really, like keys, he should let you have that code (don't google anything - he's changed the code, just lying about it, you'd probably do the same in his shoes).

    I would suggest you have a word with a solicitor so that you can get things moving. You are in limbo whilst on a mortgage and can't move on into a new property of your own. The house will need to be sold or one of you will need to buy out the other - can either of you afford to do that? Making him an offer if you want to live in the house yourself is worth considering? Unless you start pushing legally, he has no incentive to do anything.

    As an aside, have you removed yourself from all the bills? You don't want to find he's not paid any of the utilities since you left for which you'll have a joint liability.
  • gratefulforhelp_2
    It is not illegal to change the locks, but you are entitled to force entry if he has done so.

    Suggest you contact local police and ask their advice in this situation, whether they will accompany you given his past behaviour, and so on.
    Please do not confuse me with other gratefulsforhelp. x
  • DVardysShadow
    DVardysShadow Posts: 18,949 Forumite
    Hi, we’ve had to remove your signature. If you’re not sure why please read the forum rules or email the forum team if you’re still unsure - MSE ForumTeam
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