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The importance of documenting your interest in a property.

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The importance of recording how a property owned jointly is to be held has recently been re-visited in the case of Jones v Kernott. This case considered how the Court should approach calculating the interest in a property by a cohabiting couple who hold the property jointly. Ms Jones and Mr Kernott met in 1981 and had two children together and in 1985 bought a house in Essex in their joint names. At this time, they did not enter into a declaration as to how they were to hold the beneficial interest in the property. They both contributed towards the mortgage and maintenance of the property. In 1986 a loan was taken out to build an extension. In 1993, sadly the relationship ended when Mr Kernott moved out, leaving Ms Jones in the property with both children. In 1996 Mr Kernott bought his own house and then claimed a share in the previous property in 2007. The court looked at the reason why the property had originally being purchased and how it had intended to be held, amongst other facts pertinent to the case. Ms Jones argued that in the years in between Mr Kernott moving out and the court case that their intention had changed. Ms Jones argued that Mr Kernott had ceased to make contributions towards the running of the house and only limited support for their children. The court held that the intention had changed and that it was up to the court to decide how the property was held and awarded Mr Kernott a 10% share. Mr Kernott appealed the case and the appeal was allowed, but on appeal the decision remained the same. It is therefore clear, that when purchasing a property jointly with a partner, it is vital to ensure that a Declaration of Trust is entered in to, to record how the property is to be held. If such a document had been drawn up the outcome here could have been different. To discuss the preparation of a Declaration of Trust in relation to your property, complete our Enquiry Form, contact one of our private client team on 01245 228122 or email privateclient@gepp.co.uk The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.