Cohabitation Disputes

The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA).

A Cohabitation Dispute, otherwise known as a TOLATA claim (The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act), gives the Court the authority to make judgements in cases of property disputes between unmarried couples, friends, or family.

Cohabitation is a common solution for couples who prefer to live together without the formality of marriage. However, this does not make them invulnerable to the difficulties of separation; just like a divorce, there may be a variety of legal and financial assets that need to be resolved. Our team has extensive experience in Cohabitation Disputes and will work with you to create the best possible outcome.

Many people believe that when a relationship ends, they have the same rights as if they were married. In reality, they are not entitled to any of the safeguards granted to a married partnership under family law.

This can also apply in instances of confusion between family if a relation has contributed towards a deposit but not specified if it was a gift or a loan. Or friends have since fallen out after purchasing a property together and cannot communicate amicably.



There are two classified types of co-ownership: joint tenancies and tenancies in common. If you are beneficial owners, you can hold a property as either joint tenants or tenants in common. Whereas legal owners can only hold a property as joint tenants.

The fundamental distinction between the two tenancies is that in the unfortunate circumstance there is a death of one of the joint tenants, the property is automatically inherited by the remaining tenant(s), otherwise known as a survivorship.


The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA)

When more than two people hold property, a land trust is formed. The disagreement could be over determining the parties’ beneficial interest in the property, forcing the sale of assets if one owner refuses to sell, or allowing a non-legal owner to recover their financial investment. A court application for these types of issues would be made in accordance with TOLATA. These are referred to as TOLATA claims.

Financial agreements

Settling out of Court

Our expertise is in resolving house ownership conflicts, as well as issues such as maintenance, the division of funds and investments, and family arrangements. Before pursuing a TOLATA claim, evaluate whether you and your ex-cohabitator can reach an out-of-court settlement. This is a more delicate method of resolving issues, and it may be a better alternative if you have children together.

Mediation – This is where you assign an impartial specialist known as a mediator to assist you in reaching an agreement. Our solicitors can help you through this process and provide legal advice and elaborate on any terms of the agreement where necessary.

Negotiation – If Mediation is not suitable, our team can assist in guiding both of you in negotiating a settlement.

If an agreement still cannot be formed, we can help in the next steps of advancing the case to court.

How we can help you

A Cohabitation Dispute is a complex matter, but our expert team can help you with the following:

Professional Negligence

  • Creating a TOLATA claim
  • Ensure you are protected from future claims
  • Assist in settling the dispute out of court
  • Defend you if there is a claim being made against you
  • Help make a negligence claim if another solicitor or licensed professional has improperly advised you on the issue

Meet The Cohabitation Disputes Team

Our team has decades of combined experience in dealing with Cohabitation Disputes Claims. We are sympathetic, understanding, and are here to help you every step of the way.

Call or email us today to discuss your claim.


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Adele Whittle

Director & Head of Strategy and Development

Adele is a qualified solicitor with over 20 years experience working in the legal sector, predominantly within Litigation.

Adele joined the firm in March 2021 and is the member of the management team responsible for the firms strategy, including the growth of a number of key areas of legal practice, heading up the Housing Disrepair and Probate Teams. She also has a keen interest in technology, in particular automation, and will be working on optimising the firm’s processes.

In her spare time Adele enjoys walking the family cockapoo, watching her son play sport, travelling to new places and is obsessed with all things interiors!

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