Brothers at war
Cambridge graduate turfs his security guard sibling out of £750,000 family flat
A LAW lecturer has left his security guard brother homeless – and facing a £200,000 legal bill – in a dispute over a flat.
Cambridge graduate Filip Saranovic, 29, and his ‘ill- educated’ brother Nikola, 41, bought the £750,000 flat with money their mother gave them.
Tesco worker Nikola, wife Bojana and their daughter, four, saw the property in Hampstead, North London, as ‘a home for the family for the foreseeable future’, Central London County Court heard.
But a judge yesterday told the security guard his family must leave their home, while he also faces paying £200,000 in costs.
The court heard Filip, who already owned two other flats, felt his brother was lazy and wanted to sell the flat bought in June 2014.
After talks in a coffee shop, they signed a document which – unbeknown to Nikola – gave Filip the power to force the sale of the flat and force his brother’s family out.
Judge Michael Berkley found Nikola ‘had no express knowledge’ of the clause, and had relied on his brother ‘to explain that important part of the transaction to him’.
But the judge said Filip had ‘done nothing wrong’ and Nikola, who was described as ‘clearly not a details man’, had not taken enough care. He said Filip was entitled to expect Nikola to take independent advice before signing, and the flat should be sold.
Judge Berkley said any other outcome would be ‘very unfair’ on Filip, who studied at Cambridge University and Harvard.
The court heard the brothers were given the money by mother Katarina after their father’s death. While Nikola saw the flat as a home, Filip’s main reason for buying it was a plan to develop garages attached to the building.
Prior to the purchase, Filip, who lectures in maritime law at South- ampton University, had a document drawn up stating that his brother could live rent-free in the flat and his own share would be capped at £367,500.
But Nikola did not know the deed allowed either brother to force the flat’s sale a year after the purchase. By September 2014, they were not speaking as Filip became frustrated Nikola was not
‘Genuinely shocked and dismayed’
trying to find a ‘proper job’, with no sign of him moving out.
Martin Young, for Nikola, told the court the brothers fell out when Nikola realised the ‘devastating’ impact the deed he had signed could have on his family.
The family has ‘fallen apart’ over the flat, with their mother regarding Filip’s wife Nevena as ‘a golddigger’. Judge Berkley said Nikola, his wife and the men’s mother had been ‘genuinely shocked and dis- mayed’ by Filip’s actions. Mr Young said: ‘What Nikola wanted all along was to keep the home that he thought would be his for as long as he wanted it.
‘Filip knew that Nikola was relying on him to know the nature of the document he was signing.’
He told the judge that, while Filip owned flats in Cambridge and Southampton, Nikola’s family had ‘no other secure home’.
He claimed Filip did not need the money immediately, and accused him of ‘misrepresentation’. But Jonathan Upton, for Filip, said he had behaved perfectly properly.
He said: ‘Nikola didn’t ask anyone to explain [the deed] to him. He didn’t read the covering letter. He didn’t take any care.’
Nikola’s lawyer claimed he had been ‘naive’ and ‘ill-educated’ and ‘simply signed what he was told to sign without questioning it’.
The judge made an order for sale of the flat, with marketing to begin in one month to allow Nikola and his family some time to ‘adjust to the idea’ of leaving their home.
Family fall-out: Filip Saranovic and wife Nevena outside court
Bill: Nikola and Bojana Saranovic Dispute: The North London flat