Help following separation due to domestic abuse, fleeing the house and agreeing terms of sale

Hi everyone,

Apologies but I have also posted this in the housing forum as I wasn't sure where it was best to write...

This is my first time posting; please accept my apologies if this is long winded.  I separated from my ex-partner last year.  Following 10 years of domestic abuse, and recent psychological and emotional abuse, including parental alienation towards myself and our son, I have obtained a non-molestation order granted by the court to protect myself and my son from my ex-partner.  I fled the property that we jointly own with my son to a safe location.  My ex-partner is refusing to leave the property, despite the fact that this means my son can't go to school, and I cannot go to work as we had to leave for our safety.  I have applied to the court for an occupation order, but the hearing will take months and there's no guarantee I will get granted the order anyway.

Despite having contributed nothing to the deposit for the house, which we bought less than two years ago, my ex-partner is demanding I either buy him out or agree to sell, splitting all profit 50/50.  Whilst I am utterly devastated that I have put all the money into the deposit and he nothing, I understand that as tenants in common, the law will find us 50/50 owners, and would find that all monies should be split following the sale.  This is not the reason for my post.  I want to get the house sold asap so we can have a clean break and I can afford to get myself and my son back to the area, back to school and back to work.  However, I want to try to settle the terms of sale outside of the court, as I have already borrowed thousands of pounds from family for a solicitor to deal with the protective orders, the child arrangement order and the occupation order.  My solicitor does not deal with cohabitation law so cannot advise me, and I simply cannot afford a separate solicitor to help with the sale of the house.  I am not entitled to legal aid.

My question is, I want to send a letter to my ex-partners solicitor outlining my terms of the sale of the property;
- I want to suggest that as I contributed 100% of the deposit (of which I have proof), that I appeal to his 'better' nature and offer we split the profit of the property following the sale 65%/35% in my favour
- That the 'profit' means any monies left after any and all fees have been paid (including, but not limited to; conveyancing solicitor fees, estate agent fees, early mortgage repayment fees etc.)
- That if, for any reason following the sale, we are owing monies, that we each are 50% responsible for total costs
- That my ex-partner agrees to vacate the property for 1 week at a mutually agreeable time to enable me to move my property out
- That I rightfully take all large items that belong to me; the washing machine, dishwasher, fridge, piano and bed from master bedroom
- That he agrees to sell the property through a nominated agent, using a nominated conveyancing solicitor (who is impartial and has no tie to either party) 
- That he agrees to make the property available for viewings, managed through an online 'hub' to which we both have independent access, and that he agree to keep the property in a good, clean standard in order to achieve maximum sale price.  Viewings will be undertaken by an appointed agent.
- That he actively engages with the online sale 'hub' in order to view feedback from viewings, decide on offers and valuations, maintain an online diary of viewings etc.

I want to ensure that I am covering myself legally, as he has a cohabitation solicitor and I don't.  I want to make sure I've covered everything, and that legally I can ask for all of the above.  Please can anyone advise on if I can write this to his solicitor, if I need to include anything else, or if I shouldn't say any of this?

Thank you all so much in advance

Comments

  • Anon365
    Anon365 Posts: 7 Forumite
    First Post
    Hi,

    yes I've contacted them, and have support from lots of agencies for my son.  They have advised that I shouldn't look at refuge as my son is extremely vulnerable right now, and due to my salary (not that it's very big), I do not qualify for any financial support
  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 7,966 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    edited 16 March 2023 at 9:47PM
    All of your terms in your proposed letter are reasonable, but I think he might have a problem with the first and the last. If you wanted your contribution to the deposit to be recognised, you should have obtained a Deed of Trust before buying the property. Without this, he is legally entitled to 50% of the profits, so only appealing to his better nature will work. I would imagine that setting out why you think 65%/35% is a compromise would be the best way forward. You also need to (financially) incentivise him to not only allow viewings, but to present the property in its best light - if he thinks he is going to well out of doing so, he will be more inclined to do it. 

    Regarding the last of your points, I don't think you should require him to engage with the online hub. It would be better, in my opinion, to require him to specify a price that he will automatically accept, and give you (or his solicitor) permission to accept an offer of that amount. I think it would be better if you were in control of the online hub and use any feedback to go back to him via his solictor as to why you can't acheive his minimum price. if the feedback is realistic, e.g. the property needs more work that you both realised, his solictor should be able to encourage him to accept a realistic offer. 

    One last thought - asking him to vacate for a week seems a little excessive. Most people manage to empty their house in a day when moving home using a removal firm. If he were to leave at 9am, and return at 6pm that would seem to be sufficient. Agreeing the list of items that you are allowed to remove, and allowing a relative or trusted friend of his to supervise the removal might  also provide him with some reassurance.   
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • Anon365
    Anon365 Posts: 7 Forumite
    First Post
    Hi tacpot,

    Thank you for your advice, which I understand completely.  Unfortunately, I was never advised to get a deed of trust, or explained to that, should we separate, I would not be entitled to my money beck before any profits were shared.  

    You are right in that I should incentivise him; at present, money is his only incentive so I am hoping that he will be as motivated to sell as I am and will present the house in its best light, knowing that it would be mutually beneficial.

    It will be hard for me to allow a friend or relative of his to oversee my move as, due to the abuse and his ongoing behaviours, I would not feel safe around his friends or family.  I would be happy for some agreed supervision, but it would have to be a mutually agreed party, preferably that had no ties to either of us, but I understand that is probably hard to come by, and could end up being costly.  Perhaps my suggestion of a week is a little excessive; I was erring on the side of caution, knowing that I will most likely get a counter-offer from his solicitor, so didn't want to sell myself short.

    Your advice regarding the online hub has definitely made me think; I presumed we would both have to have equal access but your idea regarding an acceptable offer via his solicitor makes sense and I presume would streamline the selling process at the estate agent end.

    Thank you again
  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 7,966 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    edited 16 March 2023 at 10:27PM
    Most co-habitees don't know about the Deed of Trust option or baulk at the cost of having one drawn up, so you shouldn't feel bad about this. 

    I think it will help the Estate Agent if they know your situation and that your co-owner has set a minimum price. 

    One option you may have, if you receive an offer that is very close to his minimum price, is to foregoe some of your own equity. e.g. if he is expecting to receive 35% of £200,000 (so 70,000), if you get an offer of £198,000, he would only be loosing £700 if he accepted, so you might want to give him this extra amount just to make the sale, which will allow you to move on from this difficult relationship. To give you this flexibility, you could propose what his proportion of the sale will be and ask him to set his minimum price for the property, but word the agreement so say what amount of money he will receive  (i.e. £70,000 in the above example). This gives you the ultimate choice of what price to accept, given that you know how much you will have to give him. 

    Getting him to set a realistic minimum price might  be difficult especially of house prices have been falling in your area. You might look at the Nationwide House Price index calculator or at the UK House Price index (here > UK House Price Index (data.gov.uk) if this helps you understand what the market value of the property might be. 

    I appreciate that having his friends or family present to oversee the removal of your possessions might be very difficult, but I don't think he will accept the idea of leaving you in the house with his stuff alone. One idea might be for you to have a think whether there are any friends or family members of his that you would trust not to be abusive, or to be more reasonable than him and make a list of these. Even if it is a short list, I think that if you suggest this list to him, it gives him somewhere to start thinking about who might do him this service. You should definitely be looking to take a friend or relative with you when you go.
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • Anon365
    Anon365 Posts: 7 Forumite
    First Post
    Ironically, he has been in the house alone with my stuff for months, and I haven't had the opportunity to see what he has done with any of it, including some items that are of no financial value, but that I cherish due to memories.  But I understand what you are saying - I will really need to think about how I could go about doing that fairly.  And yes, I will definitely make sure I have someone with me for immediate protection, as I would feel very vulnerable if I were to be there on my own.

    I have had an initial phone meeting with an estate agent who has been very understanding of the situation and has previous experience of similar circumstances.  I am due to have a more lengthy discussion with them on Monday and get their terms of sale, fee schedule etc so that I can send it to my ex-partner's solicitor for him to agree to putting the house on the market.  I will coincide this information with my letter, as I am really hoping to get things moving as soon as possible.  From what I understand through the estate agent, house prices in my area have only dropped marginally, so we hopefully will not lose too much in terms of value.

    Thank you again
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