You and the Law – 3rd November 2009

Will he keep what’s his?

I have started divorce proceedings. Since the house is in my husband’s name, will I be entitled to anything?  GR

Things would be slightly more straightforward if the house was in joint names, but the court can divide a couple’s assets as it thinks fit and could, if it thought it was right and proper, transfer the house into your sole name.

The court’s prime concern will be the welfare of any children.  After that it will take into account a wide range of factors, such as your respective incomes, ages, earning capacity, the length of the marriage and your contributions to the household in deciding what you’re entitled to.

In the meantime, you can take steps to prevent your husband selling or borrowing against the property.  You should see a solicitor about this as soon as possible if you haven’t already done so.

Empty threat

My ground rent of £20 is due this month.  Usually the owner sends a reminder and I send a cheque, but she has sent two letters already demanding instant payment.  She has included a copy of a clause in my lease stating that if I didn’t pay within a month she could repossess the property.  Is this true?  RV

Clauses such as these in leases are now out of date. Under fairly recent legislation, the freehold owner cannot seek repossession unless the rent has been outstanding for more than three years, or more than £350 is owed.

This is not a reason to withhold rent payments however, since the freehold owner could of course seek to recover the money through the small claims court.

But it has put a stop to abuses of the repossession procedure.  The same legislation also requires freehold owners to send out rent demands in a prescribed form giving at least 30 days’ (but not more than 60 days’) notice, which is perhaps why your reminder arrived early.  The rent is not payable unless you receive such a notice.



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