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Understanding TOLATA Applications: A Guide to Property Disputes

By Isabel Gillman on June 27, 2024

Guide to TOLATA claims for cohabitees

Understanding TOLATA Applications: A Guide to Property Disputes


The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) plays a crucial role in resolving property disputes between co-owners. This legislation provides a legal framework for individuals who are not married or in a civil partnership to resolve issues related to property ownership. Here, we explore what TOLATA is, when it applies, and the process of making a TOLATA application.


What is TOLATA?


TOLATA stands for the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. It is a piece of legislation in the UK that allows individuals to resolve disputes over property, particularly in cases where the property is jointly owned. TOLATA can be particularly useful for unmarried couples, friends, or family members who have co-purchased property and are now facing disagreements about its use or ownership.


When is a TOLATA Application Needed?


A TOLATA application may be necessary in various situations, including:


  1. Disputes Over Ownership: When co-owners disagree on who holds what share of the property.
  2. Sale of Property: When one party wishes to sell the property but the other does not.
  3. Occupation Rights: When there is a disagreement about who has the right to live in the property.
  4. Property Management: When there are disputes regarding the management or upkeep of the property.


Key Provisions of TOLATA


TOLATA provides several key rights and powers to co-owners of property, including:


– Right to Occupy: Co-owners have the right to occupy the property unless there is an agreement or court order stating otherwise.

– Power to Sell: The Act allows for the sale of the property if co-owners cannot agree, with the court able to order a sale under certain circumstances.

– Appointment of Trustees: TOLATA allows for the appointment of trustees to manage the property, ensuring that it is handled in accordance with the interests of all parties involved.


The TOLATA Application Process


Making a TOLATA application involves several steps:


  1. Seek Legal Advice: Before making an application, it’s essential to seek legal advice. A solicitor can help you understand your rights and the best course of action.
  2. Mediation: Attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation. This can be a less costly and less time-consuming option compared to court proceedings.
  3. File the Application: If mediation fails, you can file a TOLATA application with the court. This will involve completing the necessary forms and providing evidence to support your case.
  4. Court Proceedings: The court will review the application and may hold a hearing where both parties can present their arguments. The court will then make a decision based on the evidence provided.
  5. Court Order: If the court decides in your favour, it will issue an order outlining the resolution of the dispute. This could include orders for the sale of the property, the division of proceeds, or the determination of occupation rights.


Factors the Court Considers


When deciding on a TOLATA application, the court considers various factors, including:


– Intention of the Parties: The court will look at the intentions of the parties at the time of the property purchase.

– Financial Contributions: Contributions made by each party towards the purchase and upkeep of the property will be considered.

– Welfare of Children: If children are involved, their welfare will be a significant consideration.

– Purpose of the Trust: The original purpose for which the property was purchased may influence the court’s decision.




TOLATA applications are a vital tool for resolving property disputes among co-owners, providing a legal framework for determining ownership rights, sale, and occupation of property. If you find yourself in a property dispute, understanding the provisions of TOLATA and seeking professional legal advice can help you navigate the complexities of the process and achieve a fair resolution.

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    • Isabel Gillman

      Isabel, our Senior Solicitor, has a strong connection to Llanelli, having grown up in the area. She attended Cardiff University and graduated in 1987 with a Degree in Law (LLB Honours). With over thirty years of experience as a solicitor, Isabel has worked in-house and freelance, specialising in family cases of all kinds. Her expertise has seen her take cases to the Court of Appeal, an accomplishment that reflects her professionalism and dedication to her clients. Away from the office, Isabel enjoys spending time with her family and dogs in the great outdoors. She loves to keep active by engaging in box-fit, aerobics, and yoga. As a volunteer at a local animal rescue shelter, Isabel demonstrates her passion for animal welfare. She is also an active member of her local Chamber Choir.

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