Emma Walker Watson Ramsbottom SolicitorsThere are all sorts of reasons why you may wish your home or other property to be held in someone else’s name. As one case showed, however, such a strategy can very easily sow the seeds of future dispute and the true position should always be recorded in writing in legal form.

The case concerned a man who had lived in a house for over a decade although it was legally owned by another person. He claimed that it had been purchased in the legal owner’s name because he had at the time been unable to obtain a mortgage due to his immigration status. However, that was hotly disputed by the legal owner, who claimed that the man had at all times been his tenant.

In ruling on the matter, the court noted that the case was highly unusual in that the two protagonists had no family relationship and had known each other for only a short time before the property was purchased, having met through a mutual friend. Whatever arrangement had been made between them, there was nothing in writing to support the man’s case that he was the property’s beneficial owner.

In upholding the man’s claim, however, the court found that the legal owner had agreed to hold the title to the property as his nominee. In reliance on that agreement, the man had acted to his detriment by paying most of the monthly instalments on the mortgage and converting the property’s garage into an office.

The court declared that the man was entitled to a 100 per cent beneficial interest in the property, which was held by the legal owner on trust for him. The legal owner was, however, entitled to be reimbursed for any payments he had made towards the mortgage and such sums would be secured against the property.

In circumstances such as this, putting in place credible documentary evidence to confirm the position is just common sense. For further assistance and advice on your individual circumstances, please contact Emma Walker on 01254 88 44 22 or complete our online enquiry form.

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