We deal with all aspects of property co-ownership, from providing initial advice through to preparing agreements between two or more co-owners. For more information on joint ownership of property, call the team on 01225 755656, or complete the Contact Form at the foot of this page.
Owning property jointly
When buying your home with your spouse, partner or friend, joint ownership it’s important to understand the legal implications of joint ownership of property.
Joint ownership is a way for anyone – couples, friends or business partners – to buy and own a property together. With joint ownership of property, you own as either ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. Each option has different legal consequences; the one you choose will depend on your circumstances and plans. However, in most cases, switching from one to the other is relatively straightforward. You should update the Land Registry if the joint ownership status changes.
Joint Tenancy vs Tenancy in Common
Jointly owned property may either be held as ‘joint tenants’ or as ‘tenants in common’:
- Joint tenants – under this arrangement, each party has an equal interest in the property with no defined share. On the death of a joint owner, their share will automatically pass to the survivor(s), irrespective of the terms of any Will.
- Tenants in common – under this arrangement, the parties a specified share in the property which may or may not be equal. On the death of one party, their share will not automatically pass to the survivor(s) but will pass in accordance with the deceased’s Will. If there is no Will, it passes in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy.
Where the nature of the joint ownership is unspecified, the default status is ownership as joint tenants.
For joint tenancies, sale proceeds are usually divided equally. That’s regardless of the contributions made to the purchase price or the outgoings of the property. With tenants in common, a separate legal document called a ‘Deed of Trust’ is strongly recommended. This specifies:
- each party’s contribution;
- the circumstances which should trigger a sale of the property;
- the division of sale proceeds; and
- the procedure for resolving disputes.
See our article: Joint tenants vs tenants in common
Joint property ownership disputes
In the event of a dispute, the court will apply strict legal principles rather than making an order based on fairness. In reaching a decision, the court will analyse the facts of the case including:
- details of the parties’ contributions;
- their intentions concerning ownership; and
- any promises made or relied upon.
Litigation is far more likely if there is no deed of trust in place.