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Can You Sell A House If One Partner Refuses?

Can You Sell A House If One Partner Refuses?

Looking at how to sell a house when one partner refuses, and how you can come to an agreement when only one party wants to sell.

Alexandra Ventress

Alexandra Ventress ★ Digital Content Writer

Table of Contents

Divorces and separation are stressful and upsetting situations, however, they are circumstances that we may have to deal with. 


In this blog post, we will be looking at whether you can sell a house when one partner refuses, how a joint mortgage can affect a sale, and how we can help!


Looking for a quick answer? Check out our interactive menu to the side! 

Sell your house when one partner refuses

Can you force the sale of a house after separation?

If your partner refuses to sell your home, then you may find yourself in a difficult situation. However, you cannot force your partner, and your partner cannot force you into a sale. In order for a sale to take place, both partners must agree to a sale voluntarily. If one partner is refusing to sell, you will be able to apply to the court for an order for sale of property. From there, the court will look at the wide range of factors surrounding your circumstances, such as whether the property is a family home. 


In the case that there is sufficient equity in your home for you and your ex-partner to rehouse yourselves comfortably, then chances are the court will not grant an immediate sale, even if one of you should put in the plea. When the court defers the sale for a period of time, it is usually to allow the parties involved to become more stable financially, however, every case is unique. 

When can you force a house sale UK?

As we have already mentioned, if only one party wishes to sell a property then you will need to apply for an order of sale. From here, the court will decide on the best course of action, which will often result in one of the following outcomes: 


  • Refusal of sale 
  • Refusal of sale with an order placed to regulate the right to occupy
  • Sale is granted 
  • Sale is granted but suspended for a short period 
  • Partition the co-owned property (only granted in exceptional circumstances)

What are the rights to property after separation UK?

If you are married, then in the unfortunate event of divorce or separation you are entitled to a share of the property. You can register your matrimonial home rights with the Land Registry. By doing so, will protect your financial interest in the home. 


According to The Family Law Act 1996, the following home rights are granted: 


  • The right to stay in your home unless a court order excludes it 
  • The right to ask the court to enable you to return to your home (if you have moved out) 
  • The right to know of any repossession action taken out by your mortgage lender 
  • The right to join any mortgage possession proceedings taken out by your lender 
  • The right to pay the mortgage, if the other party stops making the payments


Until the divorce is concluded and finalised, these home rights will apply.

Joint tenants vs tenants in common

When it comes to selling a house after separation or divorce, the type of ownership you and your partner have can affect the choices available to you when it comes to selling. The two most common types of property ownership that you will come across are: 


Joint tenancy: If you have a joint tenancy, then you and your ex-partner will have equal rights to the property. This means that in your will you cannot pass on the ownership of your property. In the tragic event of the death of one of the joint tenants, then the ownership of the property will pass onto the remaining party. The majority of married couples are joint tenants of their family home, so if they want to sell then both parties must consent before the sale can go ahead. 


Tenants in common: If you are tenants in common, then you and your partner will own shares of the property. However, whilst tenants in common may own different-sized shares, both parties will have equal rights. As is the case with joint tenancy, all tenants in common must be in agreement in order for the sale to go ahead.

How to sell a house when one partner refuses

When you own a property with a partner, you both retain the right to make decisions regarding the property. These rights extend to the right to sell it, so if one party refuses a property sale, it can leave you at a standstill.


These are three of the most common routes taken when selling with a partner who refuses: 

If you and your partner are unable to come to an agreement, then you may be able to obtain a court order to sell. This is referred to as a ‘forced sale’ and if it is deemed as being in the best interest of both parties then the court may grant it. 


Regardless of whether you are a joint owner or a tenant in common, you can obtain a court order. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the resulting proceedings can be a long drawn-out affair. As both names will appear on the title deed, the court will have to consider the value of the property, interests of the co-owners, as well as any other relevant factors at play before arriving at a conclusion. 

If your partner refuses to sell and you own a share of the property, then you may be able to sell your share to a third party. This is referred to as ‘partition action’ and means you can sell your share of the property without your partner’s consent. This option is only available to those who are tenants in common. 

If you have a partner who is refusing to sell and who you are unable to reach an agreement with, then you may wish to seek a mediator. A mediator is someone who is a neutral third party who can help you and your spouse or civil partner communicate with each other and eventually reach a mutually beneficial decision. 

How is a house divided during a divorce? 

If you find yourself in the circumstances of needing to divide the house up during a divorce, there are four main options that you can use: 


  • You can buy your ex-partner’s shares outright
  • Sell the property asap and share the profits with one another
  • You could keep the property and legally change the owner 
  • Or, alternatively, you could transfer all or part of the property to one partner in the context of an overall financial settlement

Sell your house without the stress

Can you remove someone's name from a mortgage without refinancing UK?

When it comes to removing someone from a mortgage, there are two elements at play, the legal work and the mortgage itself: 

The legal work

As long as everyone involved is in agreement, then the legal process is fairly straightforward. A legal charge will be set up the legal charge with the lender, and those named party on the ownership set up on the Land Registry. As part of the application, you will notify your mortgage advisor and solicitor that it is a transfer of equity. 

The mortgage process

The next stage is the mortgage process. You will then need to review your current mortgage and determine whether you wish to stay with your current lender or seek a new deal. Regardless of whether you are keeping the same mortgage or not, you will need to fill out a new application. Your lender will then assess whether the remaining tenant is creditworthy and able to afford the property on their own. 

Can I walk away from a joint mortgage? 

You cannot walk away from a joint mortgage. If you and your partner have a joint mortgage you are both liable for the mortgage until it has been paid off in full, even if one member of the party no longer lives in the property. 

This means that you will need to keep up with any mortgage that you are required to make. If you fall behind, then this can negatively affect both you and your ex-partner’s credit score. 

If you and your ex-partner have a joint mortgage, then there will be several options for you to consider: 

Either you or your ex-partner can buy the other out of the mortgage. In order to do this you will need to have the cash readily available or be able to borrow the funds to do so. You will also need to prove to your mortgage lender that you can afford the payments on your own once you have decided to buy out your partner. 

If you are going through an amicable divorce or separation, and have nearly paid off your mortgage, then you can both continue to make your mortgage payments until the debt is cleared. This way you will be both be able to sell the property and split the total afterwards. 

You could also sell the jointly owned property, use the profit to pay off what is left remaining on your mortgage, and then split whatever is left of the proceeds. If you find yourself in the position of selling a home in negative equity, then you may have to divide any outstanding debt between you both, however, it is wise to talk to your lender to find out what your options are. 

If you are in the situation of wishing to take over your mortgage but are unable to afford the mortgage repayments on your own, then you could apply for a guarantor mortgage. This means that a family member or a close friend agrees to cover the mortgage repayment costs if you are unable to make the payment costs. 

Another option when it comes to the sale of a jointly owned property is to transfer a part of the property. This means that one of you would own most of the property, whilst the other would retain a stake in the home. This way, when the home is sold in the future, one partner would be entitled to a percentage of the value when the property is sold.

What if my ex is refusing to sell the house?

If you are looking to sell your house but one partner refuses then we can help! As we have already discussed, when it comes to selling a house during or after a divorce, speed is vital. You want to avoid dragging out the house sale so that you can divide up your assets and move on, and that’s where we come in. Here at The Property Selling Company, we believe that a house sale should be three things, fast, effortless, and free. 


It’s our mission to change the way that you sell houses, so we offer you a full online estate agent service, without the fees. Say goodbye to the days of expensive estate agency fees and solicitor fees. 


We work alongside you through every step of the house-selling process. We cover everything, so you won’t have to.


If you are looking to sell your house before or after a divorce in as little as 28 days, then fill out one of our fast, free, no-obligation form to get your house valuation and get in touch today!

Sell your house without all the hassle