Property disputes can arise from time to time, and it is important to act quickly to protect your interests. We can assist with:
- Breach of covenant claims
- Renewal leases
- Break notices
- Forfeiture of leases
- Service charge disputes
- Rent arrears and possession
- Insolvency property issues
- Residential tenant and landlord disputes
- Co-ownership disputes
- Possession claims and repossession claims
- Boundary and party wall disputes
- Caveat disputes
- Rights of way and easements, licences, right to light
- Planning disputes, development disputes
Disputes between co-owners can arise for a number of reasons, for example when there is disagreement on how to manage the property, or when one owner wishes to sell, and the others do not. Alternatively, one of the owners may have lost mental capacity and can no longer make decisions.
Remedies available will depend on whether the owners are joint owners (when they own the whole of the property jointly) or tenants in common (when they each own a specific share of the property). When a joint owner dies, their share goes to the other joint owner(s) and they are not able to leave a share to another person in their will. Alternatively, tenants in common can each sell/rent/transfer their share of the land as they wish and can leave their share to a beneficiary in their will. If parties agree they can change from joint tenants to tenants in common and vice versa.
Disputes often arise when there is a change in one or more owners over the co-ownership. In such cases, you should keep lines of communication open and set a clear agenda. Co-owners should retain all relevant paperwork including deeds, leases, tenancy agreements, rent books, and have a regular review of them and any issues so disputes do not escalate.
When issues cannot be resolved each party should get independent legal advice. Attempts to resolve the dispute could include negotiation between the parties or through more formal Alternative Dispute Resolution processes such as mediation. Resolutions could include severing a joint tenancy, changing the interests in the property, selling the property and distributing the proceeds as agreed, or transferring property from one co-owner to another.
If the matter still cannot be resolved a solicitor may advise to make a Court claim. The Court can decide upon ownership issues and make Orders for the property to be sold and divided accordingly. Before making a claim, certain pre-action protocols must be followed, and a pre-action letter sent to the Court and all other owners and beneficiaries, detailing the case.
An owner or someone with a legal interest in the land can apply to the Court for an Injunction to stop a neighbour or other relevant party from doing something which is detrimental to them. The Court hears such applications quickly due to their urgent nature. The Court will take into account all relevant issues including the effect on the applicant if the intended action is allowed to go ahead or not, action of both parties, circumstances of the case and whether the potential loss or damage could be compensated by damages. It is important to obtain urgent legal advice if you believe that you need an injunction.
Party Wall disputes arise when property/land adjoins another and there are issues concerning excavations near the boundary wall or neighbouring building. The owner proposing the works must serve the adjoining owner with a Party Wall Notice of Proposed Works and if they do not consent to the works a Party Wall Award will have to be entered. The Party Wall Award is drawn up by a Surveyor, the appointment of whom needs to be agreed by the parties. Both parties need to sign the agreement and adhere to the terms. If those terms are not followed or it was the adjoining owner opposed it at the outset, they can apply to the Court for an injunction or other suitable order to protect their property/land.
Tenants (individual or business tenants) who are falling behind in their rent should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity seeking reduced payments or a payment break. There may also be government assistance available. Tenants who receive a letter that possession is going to be sought or who are served with a Notice for Possession should get legal advice as soon as possible.
Landlords missing rent payments should contact their tenants as soon as possible and ask why the rent has not been paid. Remaining flexible, if possible, and communicating may lead to a reasonable resolution. Confirm any agreement or non-agreement reached in writing. If proceeding with a claim for possession, ensure that you check the tenancy agreement or lease and know your rights and the letters and Notices that must be served and the timing for service. Obtain legal advice as soon as possible if required.
We have a wealth of experience in property litigation and support commercial and residential property owners seeking to resolve their disputes.