Ex Partner Remained in Our Home and is Wrecking It.

I left my sons' father in 2015 as our relationship was terrible. He refused to negotiate at the time, our kids were then 3, 6 and 8. We owned a house together as joint mortgagees and £35K was outstanding then. He took over the mortgage as I rented from the council. I left the house with him in good faith and it was in a fairly good state of repair.  It was very much a buyers market then and we decided not to pursue a sale, as the house was to be 'for the children'. There was no legal agreement and my name is still on the title and mortgage. In that time, he has neglected the house so badly that the kids not longer want to stay there. It is rammed with clutter, freezing cold, very dirty and cheerless and the garden totally overgrown. He has been in a new relationship since last year, though not living with the woman, and he has been ignoring the children increasingly, cutting off phonecalls, ignoring texts and going often for weeks without contact. I am struggling on my own. I am also carer to my elderly mother, who lives not far from our old house. My son is also disabled so I have a lot on my plate.

My ex has never paid any child support, I haven't asked for any before now, but if he is not going to provide any childcare, I would like to start, and also ask for arrears.

I have not yet spoken to a solicitor about any of this, but I would very much like my house returned, I feel as if this is a type of financial abuse abuse as he is wilfully neglecting the house to prevent any sale. His recent behaviour has been so selfish and damaging to the kids that I don't feel he has the right to remain there any more. Would a court hearing find in my favour? My youngest son is still only 10 and the house is closer by far to the school they attend, my mum etc. Would these things be taken into account - I don't have a car so life is challenging. Thanks.
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  • london21
    london21 Posts: 2,096 Forumite
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    I left my sons' father in 2015 as our relationship was terrible. He refused to negotiate at the time, our kids were then 3, 6 and 8. We owned a house together as joint mortgagees and £35K was outstanding then. He took over the mortgage as I rented from the council. I left the house with him in good faith and it was in a fairly good state of repair.  It was very much a buyers market then and we decided not to pursue a sale, as the house was to be 'for the children'. There was no legal agreement and my name is still on the title and mortgage. In that time, he has neglected the house so badly that the kids not longer want to stay there. It is rammed with clutter, freezing cold, very dirty and cheerless and the garden totally overgrown. He has been in a new relationship since last year, though not living with the woman, and he has been ignoring the children increasingly, cutting off phonecalls, ignoring texts and going often for weeks without contact. I am struggling on my own. I am also carer to my elderly mother, who lives not far from our old house. My son is also disabled so I have a lot on my plate.

    My ex has never paid any child support, I haven't asked for any before now, but if he is not going to provide any childcare, I would like to start, and also ask for arrears.

    I have not yet spoken to a solicitor about any of this, but I would very much like my house returned, I feel as if this is a type of financial abuse abuse as he is wilfully neglecting the house to prevent any sale. His recent behaviour has been so selfish and damaging to the kids that I don't feel he has the right to remain there any more. Would a court hearing find in my favour? My youngest son is still only 10 and the house is closer by far to the school they attend, my mum etc. Would these things be taken into account - I don't have a car so life is challenging. Thanks.
    Sorry you are going through all this at present. 

    You will need legal advice and court involvement if both cannot come to an agreement with regards to the property. 


  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,707 Forumite
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    I’m struggling to see how he’s wilfully neglecting the house to prevent a sale when up till now there doesn’t seem to have been any plan to sell anyway?
    You do need legal advice though because as things stand you would be equally liable for the mortgage if he stopped paying it. 
    No-one is going to just hand a whole house over to you and he has just as much right to live there as you do. 
    So on that basis, is he able to buy you out or will the house need to be sold to get whatever equity may be left in the property split between you in whichever proportion you can agree on, given the length of time he’s paid the mortgage on his own? 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • Thank you. He has always refused to negotiate so I had to leave all those years ago, it is unusual for a woman and children to be the ones leaving the family home but I had to, and sorry but the situation IS an abuse of us because even if I issued proceedings compelling him to sell, it's unlikely that we would get a decent offer that would justify a sale ,and he knows it. He isn't in a position to buy me out either.  
  • sammyjammy
    sammyjammy Posts: 7,377 Forumite
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    You don't say whether you are/were married?
    "You've been reading SOS when it's just your clock reading 5:05 "
  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,203 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Are you married? 
    If not, then the court can order the property to be sold and you could, if you wished, then buy it yourself and bring it back up to a better condition, but you are very unlikely to be able to argue that the split should be uneven simply because he didn't maintain it as well as he could have done. Especially as, while things like clutter, dirt and an overgrown garden would make the place less attractive it's unlikely that they would significantly alter the actual value of the property. 

    If you aren't married, then it is very much a question of what the deeds say, issues about your or the children's needs or whether he is pulling his weight don't really come into it.

    depending on the severity of your child's disability t *might* be worth looking at an financial application under the children act but these are fairly rare and may not help much.

    If you are or were married, then things are a bit more flexible, as a court can look at what is fair and reasonable, not solely at what the deeds say.

    In that instance, if you are caring for the children and / or have lower earning capacity than him, you may be able to ague for a greater share of the assets, and if it is extreme enough a court *can* consider a person's financial behaviour / dissipation or destruction of assets.

    Child support - you won't get arrears. CMS only starts the 'clock' running when you apply, you can't back-date it. You chose not to claim it previously and that was your right, but you can't retroactively change that decision.

    However, you do need to speak to a solicitor, sooner rather than later. 
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
  • tightauldgit
    tightauldgit Posts: 2,628 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Thank you. He has always refused to negotiate so I had to leave all those years ago, it is unusual for a woman and children to be the ones leaving the family home but I had to, and sorry but the situation IS an abuse of us because even if I issued proceedings compelling him to sell, it's unlikely that we would get a decent offer that would justify a sale ,and he knows it. He isn't in a position to buy me out either.  
    I'm not meaning to be harsh with you so I apologise in advance if that's how it comes off - I'm just trying to spell out the practical and legal realities of things and how a court would likely see things. And hopefully others might avoid the same pitfalls. One thing to remember is that courts tend to take a very matter of fact view on things and things that might feel unfair or relevant to you are very often ignored because it just becomes too messy to deal with. 

    So that being said ...

    1. 'He wouldn't negotiate' is completely irrelevant. In the event of a break up you have the option to agree a solution between yourselves or you apply to the court to resolve it for you. if you apply to a court then he doesn't get an option not to negotiate. The fact that you didn't do that has left you in a situation that's not ideal and the fact that you let it run for 7 years will suggest that you were reasonably happy with the situation as it stood and make it more difficult to justify completely turning that arrangement on its head now. 

    2. It's not that unusual for a woman and children to leave the family home in the event of a break-up. Courts don't decide things based on gender but on the situation of each party. It's very common that the marital home is sold and neither party continues to reside in it. Which in your case sounds like it may be the only way out of the situation if neither of you is in a position to buy the other out.

    3. Whether you see it as abuse, a court won't consider it to be as his behaviour is not egregious and clearly not designed to prevent the sale of the house since no sale has been asked for or ordered. If a sale was ordered and he did not make reasonable efforts to keep the house in a presentable condition THEN you might have a point to the court. If as you say it's a matter of housekeeping, cleaning and gardening and nothing structural then these things are fairly easily resolved. The easiest solution would be to hire a gardener and a cleaner while the house is listed and deduct the costs from the proceeds of the sale of the house.

     4. Worst case scenario you may have to accept a lower offer on the property because of the condition but that's just life I'm afraid. Happens all the time that people are forced to sell under less than perfect circumstances and have to take what they can get. 

    At the end of the day the reality is that you are not going to get a court to kick someone out of their home for the past 7 years and move you in to it because you don't think they are doing a good enough job of keeping it clean and tidy. But you do own a share of that property and you are entitled to your share of the equity so the question is how you best go about obtaining that share. 
  • We weren't married.
    The reason I didn't insist on a sale was because a year after our separation, I had an estate agent value the house and he told me it wouldn't get a decent offer in the state it was in. and that was six years ago! There are so many overdue repairs, fencing literally collapsing, kitchen worktops and cupboards needing total overhaul, water damaged ceiling etc, a ceiling that he has drilled huge holes into which requires replastering  -  a buyer would need to spend at least £10-15K - these are not cosmetic alternations. 

    Saying that, the housing market has improved from seller's POV since then so perhaps I should ask for another valuation. But it will still be coming in at very much less than others around it that have been properly looked after. I'm not averse to a sale but it sickens me that I have to pay the price for his laziness - he's actually very good at DIY but just can't be bothered.
  • The easiest solution would be to hire a gardener and a cleaner while the house is listed and deduct the costs from the proceeds of the sale of the house.


    Can it be taken from his share?! The place was actually in quite good nick when I left. My late father spent a lot of time on the garden when we first moved in - this part annoys me more than I can say really.

    It was £170K when we bought it with £50K mortgage in 2008 - was valued at £85K in 2015, but surrounding houses have climbed to about £130K since then. But you really can't predict the housing market so I am wondering if we could sell now, if that might be best.

     
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,650 Forumite
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    So we've clarified that you can't deal with this as part of a clean break financial settlement.

    As a joint owner you need to start with a few facts:

    Is the property a joint tenancy or tenants in common? Did you have a deed of trust if the latter?

    Is the mortgage paid off? If not, check how much is currently outstanding?

    Check the Land Registry site (£3 to download), in case he has any other debts secured on the property?

    Slap a Property Alert on the Land Registry site in case he tries to take out any secured debt against the property.

    And have you got your will written? Given you own property and have joint children, he would probably get first dibs at administering the estate, otherwise.


    For heaven's sake raise a CMS claim today. They don't back-date it.


    Then seek advice about how to get an order for sale. But do offer mediation first.

    And expect him to come back and suggest that you're only pushing things now because he's got a new girlfriend. It may be that you allowed stuff to slide because he was at least making an effort with the boys and providing some child care, but that may not be how he sees it.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
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