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Ex husband wishes to sell common-tenancy house at any price

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by Stilton, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. Stilton

    Stilton Registered User

    Jul 6, 2014
    1
    My mother is under continuing NHS care as a dementia patient and my sister has been appointed as deputy for the Court of Protection. My mother is co-owner of a residential property (her former home) which is now vacant since my sister, who was living there until recently, married and moved away. Our father is co-owner of the house with my mother under a 50-50 tenants in common agreement. Our parents divorced many years ago and my father remarried and resides elsewhere. My mother is single, has no other dependents or siblings and her parents died some years ago.

    My father wishes to sell the house, and has expressed his desire to sell 'at any price'. The house is in a state of disrepair, has some structural issues (settlement or subsidence), and would potentially benefit from being refurbished to increase its market value. We understand that a trustee needs to be appointed by the co-owner before the house is sold. I do not know if the court order permits my sister to sell the house, but understand that if not then we have to apply to the court for permission. My current understanding is that the co-owner appoints the trustee.

    I have some questions that I hope someone here can answer as I cannot find the answers I need in the CoP documents I have read.

    1) At what point, if any, does the deputy have to make a decision on whether it is our mother’s best interest to sell the house?
    2) Who is responsible for paying any residual bills on the property e.g gas and electric whilst is it vacant but is being regularly accessed to clear it of goods and prepared for sale?
    3) What happens if the deputy and the co-owner cannot agree on the minimum selling price or indeed whether to sell the house at all?
    4) If the deputy considers that it is in our mothers interest to seek a higher selling price through refurbishing the property, and that a structural engineer needs to survey the house before committing to any refurbishment, who is responsible for paying the costs of the survey, and what happens if it is a joint responsibility but one co-owner refuses to share the cost?
    5) With whom does the trustee liaise /answer-to to ensure that the house is sold at the best possible price, and can the trustee or deputy block the sale if an offer is below market value but where the co-owner wishes to accept the offer?
    6) If the co-owner is prepared to accept a very low price for selling the house, in principle can our mother buy-out our father at that low price if the deputy considers that keeping the house is in her best interests?
    7) As potential beneficiary of my mother's estate (I do not know if she has written a will) do I have any say in the fate of the property?
    8) Assuming that all parties agree to sell the house, at what point in the selling process does the deputy hand over to the trustee –e.g. before or after agreeing a selling price with a buyer?

    thanks for any advice
     
  2. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    18,369
    Male
    North Manchester
    You raise a lot of points which really require specific legal advice, however -

    Being a potential beneficiary of your mother's estate does not give you any say in what happens to the property.

    Your father wants to sell his share in the property which "has some structural issues (settlement or subsidence)", I don't think it would be a good idea for your mother to buy him out as she would end up with the structural problems. I think it would be better for the house to be sold to somebody else with you father taking his fair share of any problems associated with the property.

    If it is sold I would first attempt to sell it in an 'as seen' condition sharing the proceeds 50/50 between your mother and father. This would get rid of the problem of who is responsible for the repair/renovation.

    A lot depends on your father's attitude and financial assets. Does he just want out at any reasonable price? Is he going to argue that the disrepair is due to lack of maintenance that you mother should have had done?
     
  3. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    10,856
    Wigan, Lancs
    As nitram says your post raises a lot of potentially complex legal issues, and you (or your sister as your mum's deputy) really does need to seek professional legal advice.

    Essentially your sister has to act in your mum's best interests, and if there is disagreement between her and your father about the decision to sell the house in the first place, how much to sell it for, who pays the bills etc. then one or other of them will need to make an application to Court.

    I don't think there will be any necessity to appoint another trustee - your sister and your father can sell the property, but do seek professional legal advice.
     

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