Disputes over Jersey property – property ownership

Disputes over Jersey property – property ownership

Whether it be friends buying together in order to get onto the property ladder, parents lending money to their child and perhaps their child’s partner to enable them to purchase a property, the high cost of Jersey property dictates that people will consider Jersey property ownership jointly. A breakdown of a relationship between cohabitees, family members, business partners, or friends, can eventually lead to disputes over Jersey property ownership.

What rights do co-owners have?

In general terms married couples are able to rely on Jersey divorce laws to deal with the question of Jersey property ownership disputes. In such cases once the divorce has commenced the Royal Court holds the discretion to divide the married couple’s assets in accordance with the established provisions of matrimonial law.

Unmarried couples and those in a business co-ownership relationship will not be afforded the same comfort as married couples with regard to Jersey property ownership. In cases where there is a co-ownership agreement reference may be made to the Court to attempt to enforce the terms of the agreement, but in cases where no agreement exists, but the parties own the property, the Court is likely to consider the property to be jointly owned. Indeed, there is a provision under Jersey law called licitation which enables any co-owner to bring the co-ownership to an end even if one refuses to sell.

With cases where parties are not married, and only one party owns the property, the parties are likely to encounter more serious complications as to dividing property assets. Jersey law does not afford the right to argue the property is held on trust by the parties. Therefore unless there is a co-ownership agreement the non-property owner may have difficulties recovering any ‘investment’ they may have put into the property.

How co-ownership disputes occur

Co-ownership disputes occur when the relationship between joint owners breaks down or when one joint owner wants to sell their share of the property and the other does not want to sell. Even in cases where there is a co-ownership agreement disputes can still occur. This is usually over the interpretation of co-ownership agreements. It is not always as straightforward as ‘suing on the agreement’.

When to seek legal advice?

Jersey law dealing with co-ownership issues can be complicated. Before you embark on any discussion with your co-owner seek legal advice, claims can be both stressful and expensive and legal advice should be sought as soon as possible. Our specialist property dispute lawyers have significant experience in this area of Jersey law and where at all possible will strive to seek a resolution of a co-ownership dispute without resorting to the Court system. If a negotiated settlement proves not to be possible, Parslows has an enviable track record of providing pragmatic advice and fighting hard, when needed, to protect our clients’ interests.

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