• If you are buying a property with another person, you’ll need to decide which form of joint ownership to use.

    You should be asked at the beginning of the purchase whether you want to own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common.

    What is a joint tenancy?

    In a joint tenancy, both parties will own the whole property. You would not own different proportions when you make the purchase.

    The crucial feature of this type of ownership is that when you die, the property will automatically pass to the other owner or owners.

    This will be the case even if you’ve included other wishes for the inheritance of the property in your Will. The technical term for this automatic process is ‘the right of survivorship’.

    What is a tenancy in common?

    In this form of joint property ownership, if one owner dies, their interest in the property will not pass automatically to the other owner or owners. Instead it will pass in line with the terms of their Will, so the ‘right of survivorship’ does not apply.

    Under a tenancy in common, each person will own a specified proportion of the property. This means that you can stipulate exactly what percentage each person owns and is able to pass on in their Will.

    You might use this form of ownership if you want to leave your share of the property to children from a previous marriage, or to a relative other than your partner.

    It might also be more appropriate if you’ve bought the property with a brother, sister, distant relative or business partner, rather than a spouse.

    It can also be used if you’ve made unequal contributions to the purchase price and want the ownership of the property to reflect this. These terms can be set out in a document known as a declaration of trust.

    What is a declaration of trust?

    A declaration of trust is a legally-binding document that can be drawn up when you buy a property with someone else.

    It records the precise split of ownership and how the proceeds are to be divided if and when the property is sold.

    It can also record details such as:

    • Who pays what share of the mortgage?
    • What happens if one party moves out?
    • If one person has put down a larger deposit, how will that be protected?

    How to decide whether to purchase property as joint tenants or tenants in common

    Here are three issues to consider when deciding which form of ownership to use:

    • Do you want your interest in the property to pass to the other owner on your death, or to another person? What are the terms of your Will?
    • Have you made different contributions to the purchase price? If so, do you want the ownership of the property to reflect this?
    • Are there any estate planning or tax benefits to owning the property as tenants in common rather than joint tenants? (If you are unsure, our Tax Planning team can help with this.)

    What if your circumstances change after buying the property?

    Of course, no-one can predict the future. Your life circumstances may change so that the form of ownership you chose when you purchased the property is no longer appropriate.

    If this has happened, our property experts can look into whether it is best to change the ownership of the property to suit your current needs.

    We can also advise you on how to manage joint property ownership if your relationship with the other owner has broken down. This could include selling the property or arranging a transfer of equity.

    Get in touch for more advice on joint ownership

    Whatever your circumstances, our property experts will take them into consideration and give you impartial advice so that you can make an informed decision.

    Fill out our contact form, email us or call us on 01622 690691.

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