Do I need a solicitor to remove an ex from property deeds?

Going through a divorce or separation can be a difficult enough time for anyone and it can be particularly stressful if you and your ex-partner own a house together.

If you are separating from your partner and you decide to remain in the property, then your ex-partner will need to be officially removed from the deeds via a ‘transfer of equity’ so that you can become the sole owner of the property.

If there's no mortgage, you can complete a transfer of equity yourself or use a solicitor. If there is a mortgage your lender will require you to instruct a solicitor to complete the transfer. Here's what you need to know:

Couple signing transfer of equity deed transfer

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Do I have to ‘buy’ my ex out?

Most people think of a transfer of equity as buying someone out; that is, paying your ex-partner money for their share of the property. Whilst this is very common, a transfer of equity does not always necessarily mean any money changes hands: separating couples can choose what they want to exchange equity for.

For example, equity can be given in exchange for assets, such as vehicles or household items. Your ex-partner may even agree to be taken off the deeds for no payment at all, though it would be sensible to seek the advice of a solicitor in this case.

Consult your mortgage lender

If you decide to buy out your partner but still owe money on your property, then you will need to speak to your mortgage adviser about whether you have the financial means to meet the payments on your own.

The mortgage lender will then need to give you written consent in order to remove the other party from the deeds to your house. The lender will usually require that the change in deeds is carried out by a solicitor.

There may also be stamp duty considerations if the property is mortgaged. If one partner is buying out the other and money is changing hands, then Stamp Duty is charged at the prevailing rate.

Stamp Duty is payable if there is a mortgage and you are taking over your partners share in the mortgage. Although counter-intuitive, when the equity in a property is transferred from one person to another, ‘chargeable consideration’ is calculated on the amount of debt transferred or taken on.

When transferring equity, Stamp Duty is payable on the amount of the mortgage being taken on by the new owner.

Read more about SDLT and transferring equity.


Can I just pay the mortgage myself rather than change the deeds?

Changing names on deeds can involve a lot of paperwork, and sometimes couples agree amongst themselves that one person will take on the other’s share of the mortgage, with a view to ‘working it out later’ should the house come to be sold.

However, this informal approach can cause problems down the line. If your ex-partner is still named on the deeds of the property, then they will continue to own their share of it, despite the fact that you are the one now paying the mortgage.

Even if your ex says they don’t want the house now, it can be very difficult to predict future circumstances. They will still have a legal stake in the property when you come to sell it, so if your relationship breaks down further, this can result in costly and complicated legal battles years later.

Do I need a solicitor?

No. It is possible to remove a name from a title deed yourself without a solicitor.

However. A conveyancing solicitor can ensure you have all of the correct documentation, complete the necessary forms for you, handle the SDLT Return and remove the partner from the deeds at HM Land Registry. To the uninitiated, the transfer of equity process can be complicated and, for this reason, most people choose to instruct a solicitor.

If there is a mortgage on the property the lender will require you to instruct a solicitor.

If you choose to do it yourself

If you do choose to change your property deeds without a solicitor, you can find the relevant forms on the HM Land Registry website. It’s also a good idea to obtain a copy of the official register beforehand, which costs £3 for an online copy.

You will then need to complete three separate forms available on the Gov.uk website:

AP1 Form - This is your application to change the register. You’ll need information about your local council, details of the applicants as well as information about any documents which you are enclosing, such as birth and marriage certificates.

TR1 Form - This form is about transferring the property. Before you fill this in, you will need to find out if the property is registered, and whether there are any clauses or restrictions that require action before the transfer can take place. This must be signed by both of the property owners.

ID1 Form - This is a form which will verify your identification. You will need to take this to a solicitors’ firm in order to obtain certification of your identity, and some firms may charge a fee for this. You’ll be required to bring a valid form of photo ID, such as a passport or a (full) photocard driving licence from the UK, EU, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. As well as this, you’ll need proof of address in two forms.

Once you have completed all of these forms and compiled the relevant paperwork, you can then send them to HM Land Registry at the following address:

HM Land Registry
Citizen Centre
PO Box 74
Gloucester
GL14 9BB

If you decide to use a solicitor

Our panel of conveyancing solicitors can complete the whole equity transfer process for you. The process is inexpensive and gives you complete peace of mind.

If you’re ready to make the first steps in transferring equity or gifting your home or would like further information or a fixed fee quote, please call us on 0800 612 7456 or get a transfer of equity quote online.

Chris Salmon, Director

About the author

Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert

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