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HouseWorth
© GetAgent Limited 2024
  1. Blog
  2. How to sell a house when one partner refuses
House selling tips
11 January 2023

How to sell a house when one partner refuses

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher
A man and a woman sat on a sofa with a laptop between them, apparently in disagreement over something.

Table of contents

  1. 1. Can I sell a house when my partner refuses?
  2. 2. Types of property ownership and your rights
  3. 3. How to sell a house when one partner refuses
  4. 4. Can't sell? Here's how to move forward!
  5. 5. Strategies for moving forward
  6. 6. How to make your sale count
  7. 7. Summary: A challenging process, but not impossible

A house sale can be a stressful process, especially if you and your partner aren't on the same page. If one partner refuses to sell the house, it can create a difficult situation, especially if you can't reach a compromise.

In this article, we explore the options available to you if you want to sell a house (UK locations only) but your partner refuses.

Can I sell a house when my partner refuses?

Yes, there are steps you can take to move forward and sell a jointly owned property, even if your partner is opposed to the idea. However, it's important to note that each situation is unique, and that you should always seek the advice of a legal professional to determine the best course of action for your specific circumstances.

Types of property ownership and your rights

The type of property ownership you share with your partner can affect the choices available to you in a potential sale. The two most common types of property ownership are:

Joint tenancy: Both you and your partner have equal rights to the property. You cannot pass on the ownership of the property in your will, and in the event of one owner dying, the ownership of the property passes to the other party. Most married couples are joint tenants of the family home and both must consent for a potential sale to go ahead.

Tenants in common: Both you and your partner own shares to the property. While one party can own a greater share than the other, both parties have equal rights. Tenants in common tend to be younger, first-time owners. As with joint tenants, all tenants in common must be in agreement for the property sale to go ahead.

How to sell a house when one partner refuses

If you own a house with your partner(s), you both retain the right to make decisions about the property, including the right to sell it. However, if one party refuses to sell the house, it can put a standstill to your ambitions.

There are a few legal options available to you in this situation:

1. Obtaining a court order

If you're unable to reach an agreement with your partner, you might be able to obtain a court order to sell the house. This is known as a 'forced sale' and it can be granted if the court determines that it's in the best interests of both parties.

Both joint owners and tenants in common can obtain a court order, but the resulting proceedings can be a protracted and messy affair. Both your names are on the property deeds, which means the court will need to consider the value of the property, the interests of co-owners, and other relevant factors to arrive at a conclusion.

2. Selling your share of the property

If you own a share of the property but your partner refuses to sell, you may be able to sell your share to a third party. This is known as a 'partition action' and it allows you to sell your share of the property without your partner's consent.

This option is only available to those who are tenants in common. Read on to find out how a joint tenant can buy out their partner's share.

3. Seeking mediation

If you're unable to reach an agreement with your partner, you may want to consider seeking mediation. A mediator is a neutral third party who can help you and your partner communicate and come to a mutually-beneficial resolution. Civil partners and married couples may also wish to seek some form of counselling.

Can't sell? Here's how to move forward!

Unfortunately, it can be extraordinarily difficult to sell a property with a reluctant partner. Court proceedings and partition action are the only means you have to 'force' the issue.

If you're unable to sell the house due to your partner's refusal, there are a few potential solutions you may want to consider:

1. Rent the property out

If the property is not your main residence, you can rent out the property instead of selling it. This will allow you to generate an income while market conditions or other factors resolve themselves.

2. Remortgage to a better deal

If you're unable to sell your house due to financial reasons, you may want to consider remortgaging. This can help to lower your monthly payments and make it easier to keep up with your mortgage.

Remortgaging is a huge part of being a borrower - but there are some caveats to the process. If you're on a fixed-rate deal, you can't remortgage until the end of the fixed-rate without incurring Early Repayment Charges (ERC).

Depending on your outstanding mortgage debt, an ERC can be extremely expensive. As a result, if you do remortgage before the end of your fixed term, it can end up costing you much more.

To get started, reach out to your mortgage lender to find out your Loan to Value ratio (LTV), and whether you've reached the end of your fixed deal.

3. Seek a buyout

If you're unable to sell your house and your partner is unwilling to continue with owning the property, it's possible to buy out a joint tenant's interest in a property and become the sole owner. This process is known as 'severing the joint tenancy'.

When joint tenants own a property together, each tenant has an equal right to use and possess the entire property. If one joint tenant wants to sell their interest in the property to another joint tenant or a third party, they can do so by severing the joint tenancy.

This begins by 'serving a notice to sever the joint tenancy', which must be done in writing and served on the other joint tenants. Once the joint tenancy has been severed, the property will be owned by 'tenants in common', where each tenant owns a specific share of the property.

Strategies for moving forward

If you're unable to sell the house due to your partner's refusal, it's important to keep the lines of communication open and try to find a solution that works for both of you. Here are a few strategies for moving forward:

  • Focus on the real, tangible benefits of selling: There are lots of valid reasons why selling your house may be a good idea - but ultimately, the greatest mutual, universal benefit is profit. With house prices higher than they have been for years, you and your partner could stand to make some serious gains.
  • Communicate openly and honestly: It's important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your desire to sell the house. Listen to their concerns and try to understand their perspective.
  • Look for common ground: Try to find common ground and focus on the issues that are most important to both of you. This can help you to come to a resolution that works for both of you.

How to make your sale count

If you're successful in your efforts to put your home on the market, it's imperative that your hard work doesn't go to waste. To reap the benefits of your home sale, it's in your best interests to prepare. Here's how:

1. Compare estate agents using a data-driven comparison tool

On paper, a real estate agent markets your home and negotiates its sale, but in reality they do so much more. From the moment you request a valuation, here's what you can expect an agent to do for you:

  1. Accurately value your property
  2. Provide help and advice
  3. Market your home both online and offline
  4. Vet potential buyers
  5. Lead house viewings
  6. Negotiate the best sale price
  7. Manage the admin of the sale
  8. Keep things moving during exchange and completion

As such, they're incredibly important to the success of your house sale. Naturally, this means you shouldn't just pick the first agency that appears on a quick Google search. Like any service or product (insurance and phone contracts), agents must be compared.

There are plenty of free comparison tools online, but GetAgent's is fast, comprehensive, and free. We rank agents in your local area according to key data metrics, including:

  • Fastest to sell
  • Most experienced
  • Most likely to achieve asking price
Ready to compare agents?

It takes 2 minutes. 100% free. No obligation.

2. Choose the right asking price

When you put your house on the market, the asking price you pick for your online listing counts. Listings with poor asking prices often fail to garner interest on Rightmove and Zoopla, and eventually slip through the radar.

Every homeseller should listen to the advice of their estate agent - who you've hopefully picked through a reliable, data-driven comparison tool. Your agent should have a wealth of knowledge about the local market. Using that knowledge, your agent can advise on the best asking price that will garner the maximum amount of interest online - and get your house sold for the best price possible.

3. Instruct a solicitor early

Don't wait until the exchange of contracts to instruct a solicitor. Conveyancing will serve you well when it's done with the appropriate amount of preparation. Many transactions have been slowed, or even terminated, due to property chains moving too slowly. As soon as you agree to a sale, find a solicitor to help you with the legal work.

Remember: Unlike an estate agent, a solicitor doesn't have to be local. In fact, a solicitor can work from the other side of the country, as most conveyancing work can be done either online or over the phone.

Summary: A challenging process, but not impossible

Selling a house when one partner refuses can be a challenging situation, but it's not necessarily an insurmountable one! By understanding your legal options, considering potential solutions, and developing strategies for moving forward, you may be able to find a way to sell the house and move on with your lives.

Legal options such as obtaining a court order, or selling your share of the property, may be available to you. But you may want to consider alternative solutions such as renting out the property or seeking a buyout. By keeping the lines of communication open and looking for common ground, you may be able to find a resolution that works for the both of you.

Thinking about
selling your home?

Picking the right estate agent is vital for a successful sale. GetAgent makes choosing simple. Discover the best performing agents in your area.

  • Free
  • Data-driven
  • No obligation

Thinking about
selling your home?

Picking the right estate agent is vital for a successful sale. GetAgent makes choosing simple. Discover the best performing agents in your area.

  • Free
  • Data-driven
  • No obligation

Ready to compare agents?

It takes 2 minutes. 100% free. No obligation.

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