What is a ToLATA Claim?

by | Jun 28 2021 | Civil Litigation, Family Law, Property

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what is a TOLATA claim? | 5 minute read

If you and your partner split up without being married, dividing your family home can be complex and costly. According to UK law, unmarried couples and married couples have significantly different rights when it comes to ending a relationship.

ToLATA allows the courts to help unmarried couples divide their land or property in the event of their relationship ending. ToLATA can be extremely useful for unmarried couples who can’t rely on marriage laws to help them.

What does TOLATA mean?

ToLATA, or Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, gives the court the power to resolve property ownership or land issues. This essentially means that if there’s a disagreement over a piece of land or a property on that land, the court can intervene to make a decision.

ToLATA is most common when unmarried couples separate and they own a piece of land or property together. The court can decide who is entitled to occupy the land and the subsequent property if there is one involved. For example, ToLATA gives the court the ability to make decisions such as: 

– Forcing the sale of land or property 

– Determining what share of a property each party owns 

– Enabling third parties, such as parents or grandparents, to recover their financial interest in a property 

what is a tolata claim?

A ToLATA claim is when one partner disagrees with the handling of a property in the event of a separation. For example, this could be whether the property is sold and if so, who receives what proceeds of the sale. If this disagreement cannot be resolved between the two partners, it will likely be taking to court using a ToLATA claim.

It is called a ToLATA claim because the courts will reference the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 when making their decision. 

Case Study

Partner A and partner B are in a relationship but they are not married. They both own 50% of a property and both paid equal deposit and pay equal mortgage. Both are also named as legal owners of the estate. 

When their relationship breaks down, partner A wants to sell the property but partner B doesn’t think this is a good idea. As partner B won’t budge on the sale of the property, partner A can start a ToLATA claim against partner B, which will fundamentally be the court’s final decision to make. 

What kind of decisions could the court make?

When the court is making its decision, it will consider a specific set of criteria. This criterion could include: 

  1. How the property is owned, for example, is it in joint names or is there single ownership. 
  2. Each person’s intention with the ownership of the property 
  3. The welfare of those involved, for example, if there are any children involved. 
  4. The interests of any creditors 

Generally, a ToLATA ruling will outline:

  1. Who is entitled to the property 
  2. Who has what ownership of the property 
  3. If the property should be sold or not 


Most lawyers will recommend that you attempt some form of mediation or alternate dispute resolution before you decide to make a ToLATA claim. However, if an alternative form of resolution isn’t successful, you can start the formal process of taking the claim to court. 

1. Letter before claim/ pre-action letter

This letter is a notice of your intention to start proceedings. which you can draft yourself or with the help of a lawyer. Ideally, this letter will have evidence that comes with it. 

2. Response

You’ll need to await a response from the opposing party. In most cases, this party will try to defend their case and will respond confirming so. 

3. Early Settlement

You may still be able to win your case without having to go to court, if the opposing party agrees to a settlement.

Going to court

Failing an agreement to settle from the opposing partner, you can make a claim to the courts to make the decision for you and put the responsibility into their hands. 

why do i need a lawyer for my tolata claiM?

ToLATA claims are a particularly complex area of law. A lawyer will be able to advise you on what paperwork you’ll need to show as evidence, and how to build your claim in a way that works in your favour. They will also be able to outline and explain the particularly complex language that comes with ToLATA cases.

Proving who has ownership of a property, especially when the couple are not married, can be really difficult. In some cases, couples are also poorly advised in the buying phase, and so have little to no personal security when the relationship ends.

All of these considerations will be better understood in the hands of a legal professional who can expertly guide you through your ToLATA claim. Get in touch with our team today and we can direct you to the best lawyer for you case.

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