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I own some land 50/50 in common tenancy with my brother. I want to sell my half, he doesn't. What can I do?

I own a piece of land with my brother, each of us has 50% held under common tenancy. I wish to build a house and get rid of my half, he wants to hang on to his. Anyone know what I can do? I can't find anything specific to land, they all talk about wills and houses re common tenancy. None of it applies to this situation. I am really worried he may be able to hold me to ransom. He is wealthy, I am not! I really need to cash this assset in and build a house on it. The land can be split up right down the middle and it would be big enough for me to do this.


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With a Tenancy in Common, you should have included a Declaration of Trust which should have said what would happen if one or other wanted to something with the land. Have you not got anything in the deeds? Mike

Hi Mike, there is nothing in the deeds, as far as I know. I have a PDF of them. If you could send me your personal email I will send them on to you. All it says on them is the following: Restriction: no disposition by a sole proprietor of the land (not being a trust corporation) under which capital monies arises is to be registered except under an order of the registrar or of the court. That is all it says on it. I am furious because he organised this. didn't ask me any questions at the time and I'm cross I didn't think to ask them either. Now I'm stuck with Mr Passive Aggressive who thinks of noone but himself and in a financial position to not have to worry about cashing it in. My father died 10 years ago and I want to buy him out of his share of the house he left us. He did nothing about selling that in all those years even though I asked. I rest my case! He doubt he'll deal with it in his lifetime and I really don't want him to have that power of veto over my life. Many thanks for the advice

I am not a lawyer but I think that if there had been anything in the deed you would have spotted it. Often people post without having read through the documents. There are some lawyers who post here and hopefully one of them will pick up on this as it is quite a common problem. You need to consult a solicitor. You will need one to do the paperwork if you do buy him out or agree a split. Mike

Hi Mike, thanks very much for taking the time to advise me. I imagine it is a common problem and one, I hope, there is legal redress for. I don't want to go down that route as it is time consuming and expensive. I imagine I would win but wouldn't want it dragging out. Let's hope he sees the sense in splitting it up and, more importantly, he deals with doing so. The ostrich stance will not make this one go away.

A further thought, is it one house on a large plot or is it a house & garden plus a separate plot? If it is the latter then it might be possible for the % to be changed on both by mutual agreement, so you had 100% of the lower value and he had a higher % of the greater value. You would need a solicitor to do the transfers. You could then do whatever you wanted with your 100% item. Then there wouldn't be so much need to get him to agree to your disposal/development. Mike

As you know you own the property as tenants in in common with your brother. I wouldn't focus on the "tenants in common" bit (the restriction)- that just means if you die your half goes under your will (ie not straight to your brother). The main thing is you are "co-owner" You can force a sale of the plot as a co-owner if you want. To do this you need to instruct a solicitor to make an application under Trust for Land & Appointment Act. It is not a particularly complicated application. The application would almost certain ly be successful. What you won't be able to do is force your brother to allow you to build the house + then sell (if you want to do this the best thing you would have to agree it or possibly divide the land in 2)

Many thanks for taking the time to advise. I need the land dividing into two so we each have our own plot to do as we wish with. He can keep his, that's up to him, but I really need to use my share to build on. I'm not sure if he can oppose this or what redress I have via the courts and what chances are there of success. The land is wide enough for us to both to have a strip. That to me seems the fairest and easiest solution. However, I'm not sure where I stand legally and if the courts would see it my way. I can't imagine why he would be difficult about that proposal, but awkward is his middle name. There doesn't have to be a particular reason!

In my view the court are unlikely to order that the land be split in two if there is a dipute. The court's default position is to order a sale. You could offer to attend mediation with your brother if you feel it would be difficult to talk to him directly. There are firms that offer mediation to deal with this type of dispute (you would have to pay)