In order for a proprietary estoppel claim to succeed, three legal requirements must be present:
- There must have been a clear promise or assurance that property would pass to you upon the promisor’s death;
- You must have relied upon this promise to your detriment;
- There must be evidence that it would be unjust or inequitable for the promisor to go back on the promise.
A common example of a proprietary estoppel claim arises in the context of farming. There have been numerous cases where the owner of a farm promises a third party that if they work for a modest financial return during the farm owner’s lifetime, the farm will be left to the third party in the farm owner’s Will. If the third party works for a modest wage in reliance upon this promise, they have acted to their detriment. A court would then be likely to find that it would be unjust for the farm to go back on their promise.
Another example of a proprietary estoppel claim in practice is where a person gives up their employment to care for a relative in reliance upon a promise that their property will be left to the carer upon their death.
A proprietary estoppel claim may also arise where a person spends money renovating a property belonging to someone else, in reliance on the promise that the property will pass to them upon the owner’s death.
In the event that you believe that you have a claim, it is a good idea to take specialist legal advice, in order to consider the evidence and merits of your case, as soon as possible. We are experienced in dealing with proprietary estoppel claims and are happy to assist you in identifying the most effective way to pursue your claim.