Ex-partner wants house sold years after he stopped paying mortgage

Ex-partner wants house sold years after he stopped paying mortgage
Written by Publishing Team

My ex-partner and I have owned the house I live in. However, our relationship fell apart, he left the country and hadn’t paid his mortgage for nearly 10 years. I live in the house, I pay all the bills and the mortgage. I never missed a payment.

I tried to get a mortgage in my name. However, at the time, the property was still in passive ownership, and there was no hope of getting a mortgage. Two years ago, I got tired again, but because of covid, everything was suspended.

I’ve been married since then We live at home together with our 2 year old.

Now, my ex-partner tells me that if I can’t get his name off the mortgage should I expect his lawyer’s letter? He never said what he wanted but now I think he wants something from me? What can he get from me? Can he really be forced to sell when he was the one who withheld the payment, which is his responsibility as well?

I am constantly trying to get a mortgage in my name and add my husband. However, my company is still subject to EWSS, so the banks refused. The bank said I will have to wait when my employer is off the scheme before they can apply. I just worry about my family, my baby.

Ms. FT, email

This is a more common issue than many people realize. Especially during the Celtic Tiger years when there was a lot of pressure to “go up the housing ladder”, friends and partners regularly collaborated to buy properties they could not secure in their own name.

And while the banks were willing to lend money at the time with the slightest sign of risk assessment, if any at all, they made sure that the names of all buyers were included in the loan. If things went wrong, the banks wanted to make sure they could go after everyone associated with the loans, which is standard practice to be fair.

With economic downturns, the passage of time, or, as in this case, the breakup of a relationship, many people find themselves either with mortgages they can’t afford or properties with negative equity that will leave them confused. forced to sell.

As a result, many simply put off such decisions.

The situation you found yourself in – where the partner simply stops paying the mortgage and goes to create his new life – is far from normal. What’s interesting in your case is that you say you have a document signed by your ex-partner and officially dated saying that he will not contribute to the mortgage from that date – more than 10 years ago.

It’s all too easy for people like me to suggest that homeowners should have taken the time back then to sort things out and have a lawyer strike a legal agreement that reflects their decisions; Alas, life has never been so simple or orderly, especially when relationships fall apart.

It’s of no use to you at this point, but it’s worth remembering for anyone who finds themselves in such a situation in the future. It really makes it less messy for both parties.

very unlucky

So much for perfection, what now?

I’ve been terribly unlucky. Even though you made sure you had the money to meet your mortgage payments, negative equity and, therefore, Covid conspired to make sure you couldn’t get a mortgage in your name.

Your experience with the Employee Wage Support System (EWSS) is unfortunately common. By not making any decisions on your part, the business owner decided to take advantage of the scheme – not unreasonably because his own revenue would drop dramatically. Presumably, the business owner, like all others, hopes that trading will return to normal once the pandemic and associated restrictions are over, but that is the problem, there is no certainty.

As a result, none of the banks are allowing people to take out mortgages where their employers are on covid state support. Many lenders suggest they are open to it but the terms set effectively rule this out.

So yes, you won’t be able to get a mortgage until your employer is out of EWSS. Banks may want to see several months of trading after that to make sure they can survive without support.

But there are reasons for hope.

First, even though your ex is clearly frustrated, he didn’t get past it to take action. These old loans have a way of coming back to haunt people, usually when they try to borrow again. It may be that he is trying to get a loan to buy a house somewhere else and it was turned down on the grounds that his name is still attached to that mortgage.

Basically, you both want the same thing. I have been trying to return the mortgage for several years to get his name out of the loan and wanted to terminate it.

If he is stalking you through a lawyer, there are many approaches he may take. He may ask you to remove his name from the foreclosure, and if that’s not possible, you can sell the property to pay off the loan.

But he can also claim a share of the property.

Can he force a sale? Probably. It would be up to the courts to decide on it, but, even if he was able to, it would take years to resolve it so that it was no longer an immediate threat.

It is advisable to speak to a lawyer to explain how best to counter any of these demands or, indeed, any legal letter. One thing is for sure, don’t ignore it.

The timing is in your favour

You have time on your side. If a threat follows an official legal letter, the very slow clock represented by the Irish legal system begins to tick. These things take several months, even years, to come to a solution.

In the meantime, the EWSS scheme is scheduled to end in April. I think that it will be extended, but the government will be keen to return its financial resources to normal as soon as possible, therefore, in the absence of another variable, it is likely that the state support will be gradually removed during the summer, at least for most sectors.

Then there is your credit history. You have successfully paid off this mortgage on your own for a decade and you will also have gained some equity in the property over recent years. So once the banks are back in opening the mortgage business for you, transferring the mortgage into your name should be reasonably simple. I suppose, given your past efforts, you can meet the mortgage rules – or close enough to merit exemption.

Given the urgency from your point of view, the idea might be to consider engaging a mortgage broker once your company is out of EWSS. Obviously the system is the same regardless, but brokers tend to speak the language of banks, they know what they want and the best way to place orders and to whom. This may speed up the process for you.

In some ways, it is positive that your ex-partner is in touch with the matter because the bank may want confirmation from them that they agree to transfer the loan to your sole name. Given his current enthusiasm for sorting this out, you or your legal counsel should be in a better position to get the necessary legally strict agreement than him to deliver should the issue arise.

Finally, you have this document signed by your ex-partner. This should ensure, at worst, that he is not entitled to claim any share of what is now a home to you and your new family higher than what they contributed in the early years of the loan if the property was sold.

Given the pace of things in the Irish legal system and the courts’ reluctance to force people to leave family homes, I hope you’ll have time to put your affairs in order and turn the mortgage into your name – even if it guarantees an unwanted amount of stress for you and your family for most of this year.

Please send your inquiries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2 or by email to This column is a service to the reader and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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