April 2013


31.3.2 Scope of this chapter

This Chapter provides information and guidance to assist the official receiver when dealing with the insolvent’s property, whether freehold or leasehold.

The majority of properties encountered by the official receiver will be the bankrupt’s family home.  In the insolvency legislation, the term ‘family home’ has particular meaning and the family home is afforded the special protection of requiring the official receiver, as trustee, to deal with it within three years of the making of the order.  Those provisions are commonly known as the ‘use it or lose it’ provisions and are covered in more detail in Part 3 of this chapter.


31.3.3 This Part covers the following general areas: 


31.3.4 Dealing with the insolvent’s property

The process for dealing with the insolvent’s property is for the official receiver to gather information regarding the property (including its value), protect the property (see Part 2) and then realise the property to the best benefit of the creditors (see Part 5).

The initial information gathering is covered in this Part of the chapter, which also provides some background information on matters relating to property.  Guidance on valuation of a property can be found in Part 4.

The official receiver will also need to establish whether the property interest is in the ‘family home’, following the guidance in Part 3.


31.3.5 Vesting of property

In all cases where a company has an interest in property, that interest remains vested in the company.  The only exception to this is in the rare cases that the official receiver, as liquidator, has applied to have the interest vested in him/her [note 1]. 

Where the bankrupt owns a property in his/her sole name, the legal estate will vest in the official receiver, as trustee, [note 2] unless it is held on trust by the bankrupt [note 3].  

Where the property is jointly owned by the bankrupt, the legal estate will remain vested in the bankrupt and the other co-owner(s), with the official receiver, as trustee, having a beneficial interest (see paragraph 31.3.14) in the bankrupt’s share of the proceeds of sale and any rents and profits arising from the property.


31.3.6 Overview of initial action to be taken in respect of the insolvent’s property

In the initial stages of dealing with a case where the insolvent has, or may have, an interest in a property, the official must: 

  • Conduct initial enquiries to establish what property interests the insolvent may have (see paragraph 31.3.7). 
  • Contact interested third parties (see paragraphs 31.3.65 to 31.3.67) 
  • Establish whether the property is the ‘family home’ (see Part 3) 
  • Establish the value of the property and the value of the insolvent’s interest (see Part 4). 
  • Protect the insolvent’s interest in the property (see Part 2)


31.3.7 Initial enquiries in relation to property interests

Details of any property in which the insolvent is, or may have been, occupying/living, or which the insolvent owns or owned should be obtained at an early stage to assist in establishing if the insolvent has a beneficial interest and, if so, the level of that interest (see Part 4).  The early acquisition of this information will also assist the official receiver in identifying which property(ies) might be the classed as a family home for the purposes of the ‘use it or lose it’ provisions (see Part 3), and will assist in protecting that interest (see Part 2).  The following information should be obtained as soon as possible, in respect of each property: 

  • The amounts due under any mortgages or charges in relation to the property. 
  • Details of any third parties who have, or may have, an interest in the property.  Particular interest should be paid to the possibility that the property (or some part of it) may have been transferred to a spouse, civil partner or other associate. 
  • Details of those resident or recently resident in the property. 
  • Details of any property adjustment order in force (see Part 9). 
  • Whether the property has been repossessed, or whether there are any repossession proceedings in progress (see paragraph 31.3.33).  


31.3.8 Dealings with the Land Registry

The official receiver should issue notices to the Land Registry, following the guidance in Chapter 50, Part 2.

Where the ownership of the property is in doubt, this can be verified by conducting a search of the land register, if the land is registered (see Chapter 50, Part 5).  If the land is unregistered, it will be necessary to make enquiries of the person holding the title deeds, which is generally the mortgagee.

See also paragraphs 31.3.61 to 31.3.64 regarding dealings with the Land Registry.


31.3.9 Notices to the mortgagees

The official receiver should issued the standard letter to all mortgagees [note 4]. The purpose of this letter is to obtain the following information: 

  • The name(s) and address(es) of the borrower(s).
  • The title number(s), if registered.
  • The purchase price of the property.
  • The amount(s) and date(s) of all advances.
  • The present balance(s) outstanding, including arrears.
  • The current monthly payment.
  • Details of any other charge notified.
  • Whether any possession proceedings have been instituted.
  • Details of insurance covering the property, including the name and address of the insurance company, the policy number and the amount of cover.
  • Details of any other security held, such as an endowment policy, including name and address of the security provider and any policy number.
  • Details of any other mortgage borrowing known to you.
  • Details of any bank accounts from which the most recent mortgage payment was made.

The official receiver should also issue a standard letter [note 5] putting the mortgagee on notice of the official receiver’s interest in the property.


31.3.10 Enquiries where property is negative equity

Where appropriate, the official receiver should make enquiries into the circumstances that led to the bankrupt becoming in a position of negative equity – particularly where further borrowing (rather than a reduction in the value of the property) was the cause.  The official receiver should  be satisfied that the disbursement of any further borrowings can be accounted for.


31.3.11 Role of the LTAU

Following the initial stages outlined at paragraph 31.3.6, the official receiver, as trustee, should transfer the case to the LTAU (providing there are no other asset related matters that need to be dealt with by the home office), who will; 

  • attempt to sell the beneficial interest and (if appropriate) legal title either back to the bankrupt or to a third party introduced to the official receiver by the bankrupt, where the sale is clearly in the interests of the creditors (see Part 5), or 
  • place the property on a register for review to establish, at a later date, if sale of the interest, , early-revesting or the placing of a charging order is appropriate (see Part 8).


31.3.12 General background relating to freehold and leasehold properties

The following paragraphs contain information to assist official receivers in understanding some of the terms and key concepts associated with freehold and leasehold property.


31.3.13 Legal title

A legal title (legal estate) in a property is the interest in the property sufficient to deal with the property. It brings with it all legal responsibility for the property including the power to convey (sell/transfer)   The legal title to a solely owned property owned by a bankrupt will vest in the official receiver, as trustee [note 6], but will remain vested in a company, unless the liquidator has asked for the property to be vested in him/her.


31.3.14 Beneficial interest 

The beneficial interest is an interest in the proceeds of sale of a property and in the rents and profits which could be earned from the property.  The beneficial interest amounts to an equitable, as opposed to legal (see paragraph 31.3.13), interest in the property and is severable and will vest in the official receiver, as trustee [note 7].

The beneficial interest generally mirrors, or follows, the legal interest, but this is not always the case, and can be affected by a number of factors (see Part 4).  Indeed, it is possible for a person to have a beneficial interest in a property despite not having a legal interest and, conversely, it is possible for a person to have no beneficial interest despite being holding the entire legal interest.


31.3.15 Protective trusts

A protective trust is a trust where the property is held on trust for a person to without this status changing until some divesting act happens [note 8].  One such divesting act is generally bankruptcy, following which the trust will become a discretionary trust, allowing the trustees to vest the property, or not.  Where the person is in bankruptcy, the trustees will invariably decide not to vest the property.

A protective trust usually occurs where the property is left in a will and the person making the will has concerns about the irresponsibility of the beneficiary.

Guidance regarding other types of trusts is in paragraph 31.3.134.


31.3.16 Freehold

The majority of properties encountered by official receivers will be in bankruptcy cases and will be freehold properties.  A freehold property is one where the owner(s) of the property own the building and the land on which the building is located, and the ownership is not time-limited. 


31.3.17 Flying or creeping freeholds

A flying freehold is where one freehold is above another freehold – where, for example a room in a semi-detached house is above a passageway used to access the neighbour’s back-garden.  A creeping freehold is similar, but it describes a situation where the property is below the neighbour’s property.

Problems can arise with these types of freehold as the structural integrity of the freehold property is reliant on the neighbour keeping his/her property in good repair.


31.3.18 Leasehold

A leasehold is effectively the ownership of a right to occupy the property for a specified period of time, usually in return for rent.  Leasehold properties are generally flats in the domestic context.

Where the official receiver is dealing with commercially leased property, he/she should arrange for a valuation of the lease and, if it has a value, it should be marketed and sold – using agents where appropriate (see Part 13).  Where the lease has no value, the official receiver, as liquidator or trustee, should consider issuing a disclaimer – see paragraphs 34.8 to 34.13.


31.3.19 Leasehold or tenancy

Leasehold property should not be confused with property that the insolvent occupies under a tenancy agreement, such tenancies usually being property excluded from a bankrupt’s estate, (see Chapter 30, Part 4).  The key difference between a tenancy and a leasehold is the length of time that the property can be occupied for.  Leaseholds generally are for a much longer period (sometimes 99 years or more), whereas tenancies are rarely for more than three to five years (the exception to this would appear to be in the case of shared ownership property – see Part 12).

Guidance on dealing with leasehold property where the insolvent is landlord is available in Part 7.


31.3.20 Freehold reversion

Where a property is divided into flats, it is typically the case that the property will be held on the basis of the property being freehold (see paragraph 31.3.16), with the flats being held on a leasehold basis (see paragraph 31.3.18).  The freeholder has the right to grant a new lease when the existing lease expires; this right is known as the ‘freehold reversion’, and the right can be purchased.

In some cases, the leaseholders have the right to purchase the freehold reversion.  Guidance on this is provided in Part 7.


31.3.21 Jointly-owned or solely owned

Where the property is solely-owned by the bankrupt, the legal title (see paragraph 31.3.13) and beneficial interest (see paragraph 31.3.14) will vest in the official receiver as trustee.  For a jointly owned property it is only the beneficial interest in the property that vests.

Even if all the joint owners of a property are bankrupt, it will only be their beneficial interests and not the legal title that vests in the official receiver as trustee.


31.3.22 Joint tenancy or tenants in common

Jointly owned property can be held on the basis of a ‘joint-tenancy’ or as ‘tenants-in-common’.  A joint-tenancy is where each party owns the whole of the property and on the death of one party the deceased’s share and legal title automatically passes to the survivor (often known as the ‘survivorship’ rule).  Where the property is held on the basis of tenants in common, each party has a distinct share in the property, which share passes through inheritance.

 A family home will generally be held on the basis of a joint-tenancy.  That a property is held on the basis a tenants-in-common is often indicative of an unequal share of the beneficial interest.  Similarly, an investment property (or similar) will generally be held on the basis of tenants in common.  A joint tenancy is capable of being converted into a tenancy in common by service of a relevant notice [note 9].


31.3.23 Registered land and unregistered land

Whether land is registered (see paragraph 31.3.24) or unregistered (see paragraph 31.3.25) does not affect the ownership of the land but, clearly, ownership is easier to evidence where the land is registered.

Unregistered land is rare.  Since 1990 (and much earlier in some cases – see a system of compulsory registration has been in place – in respect of which land is required to be registered whenever there are dealings in the land. 


31.3.24 Registered land

With registered land there is a public record of ownership, rights, covenants and mortgages, which is held by HM Land Registry (  Each piece of registered land is given a unique ‘title number’, which should be used to identify the land (in correspondence, for example) where there is doubt.


31.3.25 Unregistered land

Owners of unregistered land will normally hold a bundle of deeds which will record ownership, previous sales, mortgages and other dealings in the land. If the land is mortgaged, the mortgagee may hold the deeds.  The Land Charges Department ( maintains a record of restrictive covenants, rights and mortgages relating to unregistered land, but these are registered against the landowner, rather than the land.

Where the official receiver is dealing with unregistered land steps should be taken to take possession of the title deeds (see paragraph 31.3.63 to 31.3.64).


31.3.26 Searches of the land registry and register of land charges

Where there is doubt over the ownership or charges position of a property, the official receiver may carry out a search of the land register or register of land charges, as appropriate.  Guidance on conducting such searches is contained in Chapter 50, Part 5) and on interpreting Land Registry documents is available on the People Learning and Development  pages.


31.3.27 Disclaimer of interest in a property

There is no reason why the official receiver cannot disclaim an interest in a family home or other freehold or leasehold property.  That said, such action is likely to be appropriate only in rare cases, and should only be considered after taking into account the guidance in paragraphs 34.27 and 34.57.

A commercial lease, on the other hand, is property that is more likely to be worthy of disclaimer.  Guidance on this is in paragraphs 34.8 to 34.13.


31.3.28 Council tax 

Council tax is a tax set by local councils to help pay for local services.  There is one council tax bill for each dwelling, whether it is rented or owned.  Generally speaking, the occupier(s) of the property are the liable person(s) for payment of the tax.

Where a property is unoccupied, the legal owner(s) is/are, generally speaking, the person liable for payment of the council tax.  A property is exempt from council tax where the liable person is a trustee in bankruptcy (which will only be the case where he/she has legal title) or the property has been taken into possession by the mortgagees (see paragraph 31.3.33).  The exceptions apply even if the property is furnished, and will still apply if the trustee is liable with someone other person.

In a company case, the company will remain liable for the council tax where it is the owner or occupier of the property.


31.3.29 Mortgages

A mortgage is effectively a pledge given by a borrower to repay monies lent.  The word derives from French – the literal original meaning being ‘death pledge’.  The borrower pledges to the lender, hence the borrower is known as the mortgagor and the lender the mortgagee.

Mortgages are secured debts (see Chapter 40, Part 5), and the amount of secured debt is important to the calculation of an insolvent’s interest in a property (see Part 4).


31.3.30 Charges

A charge against a property is obtained to secure a debt (see Chapter 40, Part 5).  It may be placed in connection with a mortgage (see paragraph 31.3.29), following judgment being entered against the debtor, or by the trustee in bankruptcy (see paragraphs 31.3.249 to 31.3.277). there are other circumstances e.g. matrimonial charges (see paragraph 31.3.278).

Apart from in relation to priority (see paragraph 31.3.31), the terms ‘equitable charge’ and ‘charge’ are, to all intents and purposes, interchangeable – describing a non-possessory form of security (see Chapter 40, paragraphs 40.135 and 40.125).


31.3.31 Priority of charges

Charges against land/property generally have priority in the order that they are created, unless they are both legal charges, in which case priority is determined by the date of registration [note 10], unless there is an agreement to the contrary between lenders and one party has acted in detriment in relation to that agreement [note 11] (see paragraphs 40.116). 

A legal charge created before an equitable charge, but registered after it will however have priority [note 12] [note 13].

Where legal charges have the same date of registration, it is the date of the interim order that determines priority, providing that the charging order is made absolute (final) prior to the date of the insolvency.

The registration of charging orders by a creditor after bankruptcy is covered in Chapter 9, Part 4.


31.3.32 Marshalling

Marshalling, or marshalling of securities, is the term to describe the equitable remedy available to secured creditors where they have security over the same assets of a debtor.  Without going into detail, it describes the process of sharing the assets between the creditors.

It is unlikely that an asset value would have been diminished in value to the estate as a consequence marshalling being applied.


31.3.33 Repossession of a property

A secured chargeholder generally has the power under the terms of their charge to seek repossession of a property regardless of the making of an insolvency order against the debtor.

Where a property is sold and there is a shortfall on the mortgage debt (and/or other secured creditors), the shortfall will be a debt in the insolvency  proceedings [note 14], subject to any deed of acknowledgment, or similar (see paragraph 31.3.36).


31.3.34 Appointment of Law of Property Act receiver

A receiver may be appointed by the chargeholder in relation to the property, and that receiver may have power of sale if so granted by the chargeholder [note 15].  Guidance on Law of Property Act receivers is provided in Chapter 69.

Official receivers are most likely to encounter a receiver when dealing with a company, or a tenanted property (on which there is guidance in Chapters 31.10 and 31.11).


31.3.35 Re-mortgages

A re-mortgage is simply the process of exchanging one mortgagee (see paragraph 31.3.29) for another, though there may be further borrowing as part of the re-mortgage.

In coming to an arrangement with a mortgagee (to deal with arrears, for example), a bankrupt may obtain a remortgage, after the date of the bankruptcy order, of the existing debt, or give an acknowledgement  to repay the balance of the mortgage debts as a post-bankruptcy obligation (see paragraph 31.3.36).

Providing that the effect of the re-mortgage is not to increase borrowing, and does not affect the bankrupt’s ability to make payments under an IPA/IPO (which is unlikely as the mortgage payments are likely to reduce), then the official receiver need not become involved in this process.

It is considered that a remortgage would operate to cancel the existing obligation of the bankrupt under the mortgage commitment which existed at the date of the bankruptcy order.  If the property is subsequently sold giving rise to a shortfall, the mortgagee will not have a provable claim in the bankruptcy for that shortfall

Generally the official receiver would not be involved in this process, and the bankrupt should be advised to seek his own independent advice.


31.3.36 Re-scheduling of debt and deeds of acknowledgement

A mortgagee or other secured chargeholder may request the bankrupt to sign a document acknowledging the level of debt, shortfall or similar.  Such a document is generally known as a deed of acknowledgement.  This might be in connection with an arrears repayment plan or a re-mortgage (see paragraph 31.3.35).

If the bankrupt completes such a deed, a new debt might be created on which recovery action might be based at any time within the limitation limit.  It is not for the official receiver to influence the bankrupt about how to proceed in this matter. The bankrupt should simply be advised  to seek independent legal advice.

Whilst a post bankruptcy debt can be created by rescheduling and deed, the underlying debt it is still a bankruptcy debt.


31.3.37 Re-mortgages and assets associated with the mortgage debt

Where there are assets other than the property associated with the mortgage debt (an endowment policy, for example) and a re-mortgage is being considered by the bankrupt, the official receiver should ensure that all parties are aware of the official receiver’s interest, as trustee, in the policy.


31.3.38 Islamic home purchase plans – general

Loans which are interest based do not comply with the tenets of Islamic Sharia’a law, under which, in principle, all forms of interest are forbidden.  Traditional mortgages are therefore not available for those following sharia’a law.

As a result, certain specialist and some high street financial institutions have developed sharia’a compliant financial products to assist in the purchase of a property, as follows: 


31.3.39 Ijara home purchase plans

An ijara is a leasing agreement where the financial institution will purchase the property and become the legal owner.  The ijara-wa-iqtina is a variation on this scheme allowing the lessee to buy the property at the end of the term, usually for pre-agreed price, paying in instalments over the term of the lease.

The property would not vest in the official receiver, belonging as it does to the financial institution.  The agreement to purchase the property would be a contract capable of vesting in a trustee in bankruptcy, as would the lease agreement.  Unless it is close to the date at which the bankrupt can opt to purchase the property, it is unlikely to be worth taking the option.  Forfeiture or disclaimer (see paragraph 31.3.27) of the lease might defeat any interest the official receiver, as trustee, has in the property, which would mean that the official receiver, as trustee, would be unable to benefit from any right of purchase.


31.3.40 Murabaha credit plan

Murabaha is a form of credit where the financial institution purchases the property and sells it to the customer on a deferred basis.  The property is purchased by the financial institution at market value and then sold back to the customer at a higher price than was paid for it.  The resale price is paid by equal instalments over an agreed period with the bank securing the payments by means of a charge on the property.

Where the bankrupt is involved in such an arrangement, the property (or property interest) would vest in the bankruptcy estate in the usual way, with the bank being a secured creditor in the proceedings for the balance of the purchase price.


31.3.41 Musharaka investment partnership

Musharaka is an investment partnership, and the musharaka home purchase plan is a variety of ijara (see paragraph 31.3.39), except that the property is transferred to the customer in stages as payment stages are met.

The effect in bankruptcy would be the same as with an ijara in all substantial effect.


31.3.42 Potential antecedent recoveries

The official receiver should investigate any pre-insolvency order disposals of property in which the insolvent has been involved to establish whether any of the transactions may be recoverable.  Guidance on antecedent recoveries is in Chapters 31.4A (preferences and transactions at an undervalue) and Chapter 31.4B (other antecedent recoveries).

The official receiver should also consider the veracity of any charge given by the insolvent.


31.3.43 Irrevocable licence

Licences in relation to property are a grant of permission by an owner of rights to land, intellectual property rights or some other type of property, but pass no assignable interest in that property.  

They may be given verbally, or contained within a written licence/tenancy and cannot be altered. Consideration should be given as to whether an irrevocable licence has been given by the insolvent, prior to the insolvency proceedings, to another party who provided funds for the purchase of the property, or otherwise improved the property on the understanding that the licence would not be revoked.

An irrevocable licence is likely to result in someone having the right to remain in the property, which may affect the value of that property. Therefore if one is encountered Technical Section should be contacted, and legal advice may be required.


31.3.44 Contaminated land

Where the official receiver becomes aware that property/land of the insolvent is contaminated, reference should be made to Chapter 82 for further guidance.


31.3.45 Housing grants

It is possible for a homeowner to apply for a grant to make repairs to their property to, for example, make it habitable or adapt it to assist with a disability [note 16] [note 17].  Such grants are administered by the local council.  Generally speaking, such grants are not repayable, so there should be no issue with the grant affecting the bankrupt’s interest in the property, by the creation of a charge, for example.

Where the official receiver is asked to agree to a grant being given to a bankrupt, he/she should do so provided that any charge imposed by the council is recognised as not affecting his/her priority interest in the property.


31.3.46 Solar panels

Increasingly today many homeowners are having solar panels installed on their properties.  Typically, this is carried out in one of two ways: 

  • Panels purchased outright – in this case the homeowner will receive the benefit of free electricity whilst generated and also a payment (known as a ‘feed-in tariff’) from an energy company for surplus electricity.  A typical system costs around £10-12,000 to purchase and install. 
  • Panels leased – in this case the homeowner still receives the benefits of the free electricity, but the feed-in tariff goes to the owner of the panels.  The lease agreement is typically for 25 years and the panels are installed free of charge.  Lenders require that the lease contract and installation meet certain minimum conditions before they will agree to an installation.


31.3.47 Solar panel agreements in bankruptcy – bankrupt owns panels

Where at the date of the bankruptcy order the bankrupt owns the panels on his/her property, and the property and the agreement are in his/her sole name, the contract with the energy company for the feed-in tariff will form part of the bankrupt’s estate, meaning that the payments will be due to the estate.  The official receiver, as trustee, should inform the bankrupt and the energy company of this position. 

Where the bankrupt owns the panels and the property is jointly owned, it will be the benefit of the agreement (and not the agreement itself) which forms part of the estate.  In this case, the official receiver, as trustee, should look to the joint-owner to remit the bankrupt’s share of the feed-in tariff to the estate.

In either case, and to avoid the official receiver, as trustee, having to collect these payments over a prolonged period, the official receiver should consider assigning his/her interest in the agreement (back) to the bankrupt, or to a third party, particularly as there is an argument that the interest in the agreement would re-vest in the bankrupt where the panels are on the family home (see Part 3).


31.3.48 Solar panel agreements in bankruptcy – bankrupt leases panels

Where the bankrupt leases solar panels, the lease (or the benefit under it) would form part of the bankrupt’s estate.  Since most lease agreements do not provide for any payment, there is unlikely to be any benefit to the estate in the agreement, though there may be an effect of lowering the bankrupt’s expenditure, due to lower electricity expense, when considering and IPA/IPO (see Chapter 31.7).


31.3.49 Solar panels – bankrupt wants to arrange instalment (post bankruptcy)

Given the costs of the panels and installation (see paragraph 31.3.46), it is considered unlikely that a bankrupt would be in a position to arrange for the installation of purchased solar panels.

In a solely owned property the bankrupt is unable to install the panels without the official receiver’s permission (as the legal and beneficial owner of the property). This scenario is only likely to arise after discharge and before re-vesting as before discharge any available funds for purchase/lease could be claimed by the official receiver.

Where the bankrupt requests permission to install leased panels in a jointly owned property, the official receiver should defer to the mortgagee since he/she does not have legal title.  Similarly, where the property is solely-owned, the official receiver should check that the mortgagee is content with the installation (as this indicates that it complies with the necessary safeguards), and ask that the bankrupt provide the costs of advising whether the official receiver should consent to the agreement, and deal with the necessary paperwork.

The benefit to the estate in agreeing to the installation is the possibility of an increased IPA/IPO payment (see Chapter 31.7), but the official receiver should also consider the potential for an adverse affect on the marketability of the property, where relevant.


31.3.50 Dealing with a property outside England and Wales (amended July 2013)

Where the official receiver has sufficient evidence to suggest that the bankrupt/company has an interest in land or property outside of England and Wales, he/she should obtain as much information as possible regarding the property/land from the bankrupt or director.  The country specific information elsewhere in the Technical Manual, as follows: 

may assist the official receiver in protecting his/her interest in the property, but local assistance (probably legal assistance) should be instructed where realisation of the property is required or where there is no country-specific information in the Technical Manual.  Guidance on locating local legal representation is given for the relevant country in the country specific information and in paragraph 31.3.51, generally.


31.3.51 General assistance relating to foreign properties

Where the country in which the bankrupt owns property is not one of those covered by the guidance in the country-specific chapters (paragraph 31.3.50), the official receiver may gain assistance or information from one of the following organisations: 

  • The Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants has a website ( which provides a list of countries covered by their members and their contact details. They can be contacted to request details of a local expert who can offer advice regarding property sales. 
  • The Law Society provides a website ( which can be used to assist in locating solicitors in other countries. 
  • The mortgagee for the property outside England and Wales may also be able to provide details of where/how/with whom the mortgage is registered, which could provide the official receiver with details of the relevant land registry for the appropriate country.
  • For information on the details of the translation services available to the official receiver see paragraphs 31.3.39 to 31.3.42.


31.3.52 Timeshares

Timeshares have been in existence since the mid 1960s and are used by individuals as a way of obtaining a stake in a property without purchasing the entire property.  Commonly timeshare is a system whereby residential units are shared on a weekly basis, with concurrent ownership.  All owners contribute to the expense and maintenance of the timeshare property, which can be undertaken either by the owners themselves or by sub-contractors employed by them.

The chief benefit of timeshare is that the individual will be able to have access to a property they would not be able to afford to buy outright.  It is likely that the time share owner will have purchased either a period of time within an annual timespan, or specific dates within the year, which can be used by the owner or swapped with other owners for different weeks or different resorts.


31.3.53 Timeshares – legal background

Timeshares are governed by legislation [note 18]. The rights held by the party owning a timeshare will be set out in the form of a timeshare contract, the form of which is regulated in the legislation. 

A timeshare contract is defined in the legislation as "a contract between a trader and a consumer [defined as ‘an individual who is not acting for the purposes of a trade, business, craft or profession’
[note 19] under which the consumer, for consideration, acquires the right to use overnight accommodation for more than one period of occupation, and which has a duration of more than one year, or contains provision allowing the contract to be renewed or extended so that it has a duration of more than one year” [note 20]


31.3.54 Disposing of an interest in a timeshare

The Timeshare Consumers Association ( provides general guidance for consumers using timeshare re-sale companies, and provides details of affiliated companies who offer re-sale services (

The official receiver should also note that the Timeshare Consumers Association suggests that in any one year, 50% of UK timeshare owners want to sell their timeshare interest, but only 2% of owners achieve actual re-sales.  Those who do manage to sell are often unable to achieve anything but a low re-sale price, especially where the sale is enforced.  Certain weeks in the year or types of timeshare (canal boat timeshares or holiday club membership, for example) are very difficult if not impossible to sell.

As a guide, the Timeshare Consumers Association suggests that any sale of the timeshare interest will at best achieve 15% of the price originally paid if the timeshare was purchased from a resort developer or marketing company.  If the timeshare interest was purchased from an owner or through a re-seller, there should only be a modest loss on sale.


31.3.55 Timeshares – disclaimer may be appropriate

If the value of the timeshare is not worth realising then the official receiver should disclaim (see Chapter 34) it as service charges may be onerous (sometimes equal to or greater than the value of the timeshare interest).


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