How To Sell A House When One Partner Refuses?

Close-up of a Woman Holding a Home For Sale Sign

Few things can be quite as overwhelming as selling a house, but things get far more complicated if you and your partner both own the house and one of you is ready to sell while the other isn’t. Whether the relationship simply broke down or you’re working through a divorce, adding the sale of your house on top of the relationship breakup is difficult. Fortunately, with the right help and guidance, it is possible to sell a house even if one partner is refusing to do so. That will allow you to move on to the next chapter of your life. This guide offers you the help you need to sell the house even if your partner is refusing to do so. We’ll discuss the legal definitions of property ownership you need to know as well as the advice you need most so you can get the sale completed and make your move a stress-free experience. We’ll even cover key questions like “Under what circumstances can you force a house sale in the UK?” and “If I leave the marital home, what are my rights in the UK?” Throughout, we’ll have the tips and knowledge you need to better understand what to do next. Ready to get started?

Who Owns What?

If you’re wondering how to sell a house when one partner refuses, the best way to understand the legalities involved is to look into exactly how the property that the two of you shared is owned. When you decided to buy a property together, you had to decide on what type of joint ownership might work best for you. Your rights to property in the UK after separation depend on this.

Keep in mind that these rules don’t just apply to couples. Imagine you were buying a house jointly with your son in the UK. These kinds of ownership agreements would be part of that, too. They apply to anyone who buys a property together.

The first type of agreement the two of you can share is called a joint tenancy. In this type of agreement, the two of you equally share the property. Essentially, you both own 50% of the property. If one spouse or partner were to die, their share of the property would automatically pass to the other one in a legal move called “right of survivorship.” In this kind of agreement, there’s no division over ownership. For example, it’s not that one of you owns the north side of the house and the other owns the south side. Instead, you both have an interest in the entire property.

The second kind of agreement you may have decided on is called a Tenancy in Common. In this situation, two people also jointly own the property, but here, it’s possible to have unequal shares of that ownership. For example, Partner A might own 60% of the property while Partner B owns 40% of the property. They can transfer that property to anyone they wish at any time. They can leave their share to different beneficiaries in a will, too. If one partner passes away at some point, the share they leave behind doesn’t just go to the person who survives. Instead, it can go to whomever the deceased wishes it will.

Wondering why you would have gone one way over the other? There are benefits to both kinds of agreements. The joint tenancy offers several different benefits, and that might be why it’s the more popular form of joint ownership, particularly for those who are married or have an incredibly close relationship. The best reason to consider this type of option is that you automatically give the right of survivorship to your partner. If your co-owner passes away suddenly, their share automatically goes to you, so you don’t have to worry about probate or a drawn-out court proceeding to transfer the deceased person’s share to you. Instead, the transfer is as smooth and clear as possible.

More than that, though, joint tenancy means that both of you have an equal right to the property. You have an undivided interest in the entire property, which may help to avoid any disputes and make the decisions far simpler. Naturally, there are some downsides to this kind of ownership, too. For example, if you’re saying, “I want my partner to leave, but he won’t,” and you have a joint tenancy agreement, the reality is that he doesn’t have to. Similarly, if you’re left asking “Can my husband move his girlfriend into our house?” if the two of you have a joint tenancy, that’s a very real possibility. Ask yourself “When is a partner entitled to half my house?” It’s this scenario again at fault.

Tenancy in common offers some great benefits, too, and there are several reasons you may have chosen that form of ownership. It’s ideal if both of you have different ownership preferences or you want some flexibility with planning your estate. With this kind of agreement, you can decide how you want to share the property. Because you can specify that you want a smaller share than half, you can tailor it to your contributions to the property, which allows for a measure of flexibility other agreements simply don’t have. For example, imagine you want to share ownership with your partner, but she travels seven months out of each year. In that case, a tenancy in common agreement would allow you to have more of a share of the property based on the fact that you tend to contribute more to it overall. There are other real advantages to this arrangement, too. It means more protection for each of you in the event one of you has financial difficulties to deal with or legal problems. The other co-owners’ share of the property cannot be taken by creditors at any point in time.

For the most part, this kind of agreement is used by unmarried couples or individuals who wish to co-own a property but want separate ownership shares within that property. It creates a clean exit strategy because if one person wants to sell their share, they can do that on an independent basis. They do not need the agreement of the other co-owners to do so.

While there are many positive aspects to tenancy in common agreements, they also have some drawbacks, too. Tenancy in common agreements can be more complex than joint tenancy arrangements, especially when co-owners have different contributions or interests in the property. This complexity can lead to additional legal and administrative costs. Additionally, in certain situations, one co-owner may be financially dependent on the other, such as in a family or domestic partnership. In such cases, the unequal ownership shares can lead to issues concerning property ownership and division.

No matter which way your home is co-owned, knowing that fact alone can help you better understand whether buying your partner out of the mortgage is possible or how to answer questions like “Can I stop my ex from coming into the house in the UK?” Often these agreements come with a Declaration of Trust which helps to outline sale arrangements and how the proceeds should be divided. That will help you know more about your legal ability to sell it.

Joint Borrower, Sole Proprietor Arrangements Explained

While those are the two kinds of ways both of you might end up on the title to the property together, there’s one other unique arrangement to consider, but it deserves its section. This is called a Joint Borrower Sole Proprietor arrangement. In this situation, only one person’s name is on the deed to the property, but two people have their names on the mortgage together. Essentially, it’s a joint mortgage but only one name on the deeds appears. These arrangements happen for a variety of different reasons, but one of the most common is that you need the other person to help pay for the mortgage or to act as a guarantor for the mortgage. Unfortunately, it is not good news if your name doesn’t appear on the title, though. If that’s the case, you’re financially responsible for the loan itself, but you have no legal right to the property and you have no vested interest on any gains made when the property itself is sold. While it can be a fairly good deal at the outset of a relationship, it can also create very serious problems down the road for the person whose name is not on the deed itself.

Whose Consent Do You Need To Sell?

Once you know how the ownership of your home is divided, you may also be able to uncover the consent requirements for selling the home. Several different kinds of consent requirements may apply to your property. Naturally one of them is the ownership status we discussed in the previous paragraph. The other ones include where it’s located, any modifications that may have taken place, and whether or not you still have a loan on the property. The bottom line is that if you’re going to sell the property, you have to make sure all of the necessary consents have been obtained before you can move forward with that sale. The first is the co-ownership consent. If you have a co-owner, look at how that agreement is structured and whose permission you have to have to move forward with a sale. If your property is located in a conservation area, additional consent may be required for the sale. Similarly, if you have made modifications, you cannot sell the property without proving you had planning permissions and building regulation permissions to make those kinds of alterations, which is another type of consent. Additionally, if you have an outstanding balance on the mortgage, the lender’s consent is required before you can sell your home. This helps ensure the lender is aware of the sale and can help you understand what you still owe on the home.

The final type of consent you may need to obtain in these cases only applies if the property you own is a leasehold. In that situation, there may be provisions in your contract that require you to talk to the freeholder before you can make the sale.

How To Sell A House When One Partner Refuses In The UK

Once you’ve done your homework and you know what type of agreement the two of you had together and whose consent you must obtain to sell the house, you’re ready to figure out how to sell it if one partner is refusing to make that happen. Unfortunately, there’s only one easy way to do just that. If you are the sole legal owner of the property, and it is only in your name, you may sell it without the consent of anyone else, including your partner. This is true whether you are actually married, just partners, or you have a civil partnership.

If you are tenants in common, you may easily sell your share without your partner’s consent because their share will remain unaffected. That’s not to say, though, that it will be an easy sale. One of the downsides of these kinds of agreements is that selling your share can sometimes be complicated, particularly if your co-owner is not interested in buying out your share.

Unfortunately, if you jointly own the property with another person and you have a joint tenancy agreement, you cannot sell without their consent. In these situations, you both have a right to the property, so you cannot sell or transfer it without mutually agreeing to do so. So, if you’re searching for the answer to “Can I sell my house without my spouse’s signature in the UK?” if the two of you have a joint tenancy agreement, the short answer is not very easy.

The first step is just to get the other person to meet with you and talk about the situation. You may be able to broker an arrangement so that the two of you can finally agree to sell the property. Be sure to choose the perfect time and place to make this happen. It should be a neutral place that helps both of you feel safe throughout the conversation. You’ll want it, also, to be a place that is mostly free from distractions. The goal is to make sure that you are not rushed during the meeting, and that the two of you can work out an agreement in peace with each other.

Before you ever sit down to meet with your partner, you’ll want to sit down and define the reason you’re selling the property and what you hope to achieve. Be very clear about your motivation. Maybe there are financial issues at stake. Perhaps you’re working to start fresh. It could be that you just want to move for better job opportunities. Work to create this reasoning clearly, and make certain that you have all of the key details about the property on hand including what it’s worth right away, any information about the mortgage, and any outstanding liabilities that come with the property.

Once the two of you are together, be respectful and composed throughout your entire conversation. Make certain you don’t blame or criticise your ex. Instead, you should focus on the goal of selling the property. Listen to your ex’s concerns as well as their perspective. Be as empathetic as possible so you can create an atmosphere of understanding and be successful in this endeavour.

If the conversation between the two of you doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, the next step in the process of selling your home is to talk to a solicitor. If this is the way you need to go, though, keep in mind that selecting the right professional is essential. If you’re going through a breakup or a divorce, it can be emotionally challenging, and if you’re trying to sell a home on top of that, things can be even worse. The right solicitor is the one person you can turn to so that your legal interests will be protected.

The best place to start looking is by talking to your friends, colleagues, or family members who have worked with a solicitor during a break-up in the past. In most cases, these are the people who can offer you the insights you need to start a list of solicitors in your area and in your price range who may be able to help. These are also the people who will give you honest opinions about the solicitors with whom they’ve worked in the past and how effective and professional they were.

You may also want to look to the internet as the resource you need to find solicitors who specialise both in relationship breakups and the sale of property. Remember that not every solicitor specialises in the same things, so you’ll want to look for those individuals or firms that have some pretty specific experience and expertise with both of those. Often you can identify them thanks to the reviews and testimonials on their sites. You may also be able to find some directories online that help you learn more about their reputations and how satisfied their clients are overall.

When you have a decent list of individuals who might be able to meet your needs, you’ll want to talk to a few of them before you decide who might best meet your needs. Many solicitors will meet with you initially without any costs to give you a chance to learn more about how they can help. This offers them an opportunity to learn more about your situation, too, so they can better understand the kind of help you may be looking to them to provide. This is the perfect time to learn more about their approach to property disputes and what you may end up paying for their services. It’s also the perfect time to understand whether you truly feel comfortable working with that person.

After obtaining the help of a solicitor, the next step is to go to court if you cannot get your ex to come to the same conclusions about the property that you have. In most cases, you’ll need to apply for a “financial order” to help resolve the matter. If the two of you are obtaining a divorce, this will become part of the divorce proceedings. The order helps both parties to understand exactly what must happen to the property and whether it should be sold at all. It also helps both of you understand if it is sold how the funds will end up being divided.

Financial orders can only be issued by the court. They outline how the finances and assets of two people – typically two people who are divorcing, but that’s not always the case – should be divided. The goal is to create a fair settlement in terms of finances for both parties while paying attention to each individual’s needs and interests.

Before you can get a financial order, though, you’ll have to offer a complete disclosure of all of your financial circumstances to the court. Your partner will have to do the same. Keep in mind that this is a lot of information. You’ll have to tell the court about your income as well as any assets you have. That does include a pension if you have one. Additionally, you’ll need to spell out any liabilities you have as well. Wondering why you need to provide so much information? The court needs all of it to better understand what the fairest financial settlement might be.

Often you’ll be sent to mediation before the court will make some kind of decision. If you cannot agree to mediation, then the court will schedule an FDA. FDA in this case stands for a “First Directions Appointment.” This is typically the first hearing you might have in connection with a financial dispute between partners. At this point, you and your solicitors will both meet with the judge. He or she will offer some directions as to where things will go from there. They may also tell you a bit more about what the timetable for the next few steps looks like.

The goal of any FDA hearing is to see what a settlement could look like for the two of you. Often the judge will spend some time looking at the potential for financial compromises in the case. The judge may even offer their view on what might happen were the case to eventually reach a final hearing. That alone could push both parties to finally agree on whether to sell the house.

If, however, the judge cannot persuade your partner to allow for the sale of the house, the court will schedule a final hearing. During the final hearing, both parties will have a chance to offer witnesses and evidence, as well as arguments on any property involved, including the house. Once that’s done, the judge decides exactly what will happen to all of the property. The judge makes that decision in the form of the financial order we mentioned earlier, which tells how everything will be divided.

This is both legally binding and completely enforceable, so both of you have to comply. If, for example, the judge says the house has to be sold, and the profits must be divided evenly, that’s what must happen. Even if you say “I don’t want to sell my house anymore,” UK courts will still uphold that decision. Should either of you fail to follow the order, the other party can go back to court to ensure the order is followed.

It is possible that your partner or spouse still won’t cooperate even if a financial order has been issued. In that situation, you only have the option of going back to court a second time. Often a forced sale will take place then. It’s usually called a “court order for sale.” It gives the court a chance to sell the property even if one party doesn’t want it to be sold. You will have to work through your solicitor to make an application in this situation to the court. That application will detail the reasons you want the sale to take place, as well as the details of the dispute between the two of you. It will also detail the efforts you’ve made to make sure the issue is resolved without the court’s help.

As in your previous court appearance, you’ll both have a chance to present your arguments to the judge and typically you can present evidence in this type of hearing as well. The judge usually considers several different aspects when working to make a decision, too, like the financial circumstances of both of you, who needs this particular housing arrangement, and how this might affect any dependents in the case.

Once you’ve both had a chance to present your case, the court will decide whether it is warranted to issue a court order for the sale of the house. If the court does decide that is appropriate, they will tell you both what the terms of the sale will be and how those proceeds will be divided. The court may also set up a timeframe for the sale to reach the day of completion. This helps to ensure there’s some reasonable opportunity to get the property sold. If it doesn’t happen within that time frame, the person who wants the sale may have to go back to the court for additional action. Both owners, however, are required to comply with the order for the sale, and if someone refuses to cooperate, the court may go as far as appointing a trustee to handle the sale of the property. There may also be other penalties for the person who doesn’t comply with the sale.

It Is Possible To Sell Even Without Your Partner!

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to sell the house, but your partner simply refuses to make it happen, it is possible to make sure it does happen, but it’s not always an easy situation to be in. If you talk to your partner initially, you have a far better chance of resolving the situation without going to court, but that’s not always going to be the case. Instead, your only option eventually may be to work through the courts to get your house sold.


Still, have questions about selling a house after the relationship between two co-owners is over? These quick answers may be helpful!

My Partner Is Ignoring A Court Order To Sell Our House. What Can I Do?

If you already have a court order to sell a jointly owned home, and your partner is ignoring that order, all you can do is let your solicitor know so that the two of you can return to court. In most cases, if there’s already a court order involved in that sale, the judge will usually ensure the sale moves forward, and your partner will suffer at least some consequences for ignoring that court order.

We’re Divorcing! I Want To Move Out, But Can’t Afford It In The UK! What Should I Do?

If the two of you own property together, and you’d like to move out, but it’s just too pricey, there aren’t a lot of options for you. You can certainly talk to your partner to see if they’d like to sell so you can move on with your life, but if that’s not the case, really the only option is to talk to a solicitor to see if you can force them to sell the house so the two of you can split the proceeds.

I Own My House, And My Boyfriend Is Moving In. How Can I Protect My Asset?

If you’re looking to protect your asset so that it remains your sole property, just be sure your boyfriend isn’t listed on the deed to the house or on the mortgage. In most cases, even if the two of you break up at some point, that will help to ensure that he has absolutely no claim to your property. You should also document who makes the mortgage payment regularly and who pays for repairs and the like. As long as you can prove that it’s your asset and you’re financially responsible for it, the court will never award part of it to him.

Is Buying A House After Divorce In The UK Possible?

Yes, you can buy a house after a divorce in the UK. Divorce does not prevent either party from purchasing a new property independently. After a divorce, each individual is free to make their own financial decisions, including buying a new home. Be sure, however, before buying a new property, that the financial settlement from the divorce has been finalised and all relevant matters, such as the division of assets and spousal maintenance, have been resolved.

Similarly, buying a house during a divorce in the UK is also possible. Divorce proceedings can take several months, and individuals may need to find a new home for various reasons during this time. Keep in mind, though, that purchasing a new house during a divorce can have financial implications, especially if you are still working out the financial settlement with your spouse. Buying a new property could affect the division of assets and may be considered when determining financial settlements.

I Want My Partner To Leave But He Won’t! Will UK Courts Help?

Whether the UK courts will help depends a bit on the type of agreement the two of you have around the property you want your partner to leave. If you have a joint tenancy agreement, the courts likely won’t make your partner leave, as you both own part of the property. If you have a tenancy in common agreement, they still may not be helpful, as your partner still owns part of the property, but in both situations, you can likely work something out in court so that the two of you no longer have to live together.

The Court Disagrees With Our Consent Order. What Can I Do?
This can be a challenging and frustrating situation, but there are steps you can take to address it. Start by working through the court’s reasoning with your solicitor. If some disagreements or issues led to the court’s refusal of the consent order, consider going back to mediation with your ex-partner to try to reach a revised agreement. Mediation allows both parties to work together with the help of a neutral mediator to find common ground and resolve any disputes. Based on the court’s feedback, negotiate with your ex-partner to revise the terms of the consent order. Address any concerns raised by the court to increase the chances of the court’s approval. If you and your ex-partner agree on the revisions, you can submit the amended consent order to the court for approval. Ensure that all changes are clearly and accurately reflected in the new version.

If you strongly believe that the court’s decision was incorrect or unfair, even without your partner, you may have the option to file an appeal. However, appealing a court decision can be complex and time-consuming, and you will need to provide solid grounds for the appeal.

My Ex-Partner Is Refusing To Leave My House In The UK. Is That Legal?

If your ex-partner is a joint owner of the property, they have a legal right to live in the house. Joint owners have equal rights to occupy the property, and neither party can force the other to leave without a court order.

Can You Sell A House Without The Deeds?

In the UK, you generally cannot sell a house without the title deed. The title deed is a legal document that provides evidence of ownership of the property. It contains important information, including the property’s description, the name of the registered owner(s), and any restrictions or rights that may affect the property.

To sell a house, you must the be authorised to transfer ownership. This authority is established through the title deed, which confirms that you are the registered owner and have the right to sell the property.

Can You Be Refused Equity Release Because Of Your Partner?
In the UK, your eligibility for equity release is generally based on your circumstances, and it should not be refused solely because of your partner.

We are proud members of...

  • NAPB
  • RICS
  • The Property Ombudsman
  • Trading Standards

We are proud to be the most regulated property buyer operating in the ‘Quick House Sale’ industry. We are an active member of the NAPB (National Association Of Property Buyers) and are RICS regulated, which means you can have every confidence of selling your home with us quickly & easily.