Will I be forced to sell my house if I don’t want to live with the co-owner anymore?

I bought a house jointly with my boyfriend and we've been living there for a couple of years. We're now in the process of splitting up and my boyfriend says that he can force me to sell the house and drop the price if it doesn't sell quickly. If he does this, I won't have enough for a deposit on another house and the bank won't let me get another mortgage. He says he's seen a solicitor so he knows he can do it. But I need to know if he has the right to make me do these things. I've looked into seeing a solicitor myself but it is so expensive. Can he force the sale?

A relationship ending is a difficult time and can mean major changes to all aspects of your life as well as your housing and finances. If you would like to talk about the breakdown of your relationship or would like to find a mediation service you can contact Relate on 0300 100 1234 or find your local family mediation service.

You asked whether your boyfriend could force a sale of your house or not. If you are both named on the house deeds as owners then any sale would need the consent of both of you. But if there is a disagreement about selling, either of you could apply to the county court for an order that forces, delays, or postpones the sale of the house.

The judge would have to look at the circumstances of the case and decide whether it is reasonable to make such an order. They would also take into consideration the contributions you both made to the property, for example, the deposit.

It will probably better to be represented if your boyfriend went to court to force a sale. Solicitors can be expensive but if you’re on benefits or a low income, you may be able to get help to pay for a solicitor or mediation. To find out more and to get an estimate of whether or not you may be eligible, use this Legal Aid Calculator. Even if you are not entitled to legal aid, many solicitors will give you a free half hour consultation. You can find a family law specialist in your area in this directory of solicitors and legal advice or call Community Legal Advice on 0845 345 4345.

In the longer term, it is likely you’ll need to move out of your home. If you are unable to buy somewhere else then you could apply to the council for help. Read about making a homeless application to find out what kind of help you may be able to get from the council. The council may say that you contributed to your homelessness if you sell your house. This is called being found intentionally homeless. If this happens you would receive less help from the council, so it would be a good idea to seek advice before agreeing to sell your home.

Even if you are not threatened with homelessness, you could apply to the council and ask to go on its housing waiting list (sometimes known as the housing register).

To get more information and advice about any housing issue you’re worried about you can search Shelter’s advice services directory.

Answered by Shelter on 06-Mar-2014

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