SI DEN01110.517 Developing Equitable Ownership
In addition to other forms of home ownership, an individual may acquire an ownership interest in property through such actions as payment of mortgage, construction of additions to the home, improvements or personal considerations. Even where another person is sole titleholder, the individual may allege ownership through equity.
If an individual alleges equitable ownership or if during the course of development it appears that the individual may have acquired an equitable ownership interest, the issue must be fully developed. However, the mere performance of the acts cited in paragraph A. above, does not of itself constitute equitable ownership. Additionally, there must be sufficient indication that it was intended that the individual acquire an interest in the property in question by virtue of these acts. The intent of the parties to convey or create an ownership interest must be established.
In developing whether a person has an equitable ownership, the adjudicator should obtain signed statements from all parties involved, as well as statements from other parties having knowledge of the acts performed and/or the intent of the parties to the transactions. The field office should also obtain any proofs of payment that exist.
Some questions that should be asked of the record titleholder(s) are:
Besides yourself, does anyone else have ownership in the property?
How did they acquire the ownership?
Was the individual ever told that he/she would acquire ownership in the property? When?
Under what conditions was ownership to be acquired?
Why (if true) has no deed or other document been executed and/or recorded which shows this ownership?
What physical portion of the property is involved either by description or percentage?
Is land included and if so, what portion of it (description or percentage)?
Are any other persons aware that the above-named individual is considered an owner of the property? Can he/she convey this interest?
Would you be required to consult with him/her prior to selling or mortgaging your interest in the property?
Would you be required to share the proceeds from the sale of the entire property with him/her?
If he/she died, do you understand that his/her interest passes to his estate, heirs, etc., or do you understand that the interest would be yours?
Does the individual pay any taxes, insurance, repairs and/or upkeep on the property? If so, describe.
Can the individual rent or lease his interest so that another person can use it to the same extent as he/she can?
Are there any other conditions, restrictions, or limitations on the individual's use of the property? If so, describe them.
Was there a mutual agreement reached between you and the individual? If so, what is it and how was it documented? If there are other owners, did they agree and how was this agreement expressed?
A similar line of questioning should be pursued with the applicant/recipient and other persons having knowledge of the alleged ownership interest. Keep in mind, however, that the actual questions will be dictated by the facts in the case.
After obtaining all necessary information, send to the ARC, Programs for referral to the Chief Counsel.
Field offices in all States should follow the same line of questioning indicated above when developing equitable ownership cases for referral.