Joint Ownership of Property

When more than one person owns property, they have to decide on the type of ownership required, which will be registered on the Official Register. There are two options, which are legally described as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. The difference between these two types of ownership is explained below.

Joint Tenants

Each owner is a Joint Tenant and holds an identical interest in the whole of the property. This means that all owners must agree to any action affecting the title of the property - such as a sale or a remortgage, for example. If the property were to be sold or remortgaged, any money realised would be paid out as one amount made payable to all the owners (unless written instructions were received from all the owners agreeing to a different course of action).

In the event that one of the owners were to die, the property would automatically pass into the ownership of the surviving owner(s).

This is the option that is usually chosen by married couples.

Tenants in Common

When property is held by the owners as Tenants in Common this means that each owner has a share (equal or unequal) in the property which they can deal with by will or otherwise as they wish. The shares are fixed by mutual agreement at the time of acquisition. All owners (whatever share of the property each holds) must still agree to any action affecting the title of the property - such as a sale or a remortgage, for example. If the property were to be sold or remortgaged, any money realised would be split between the owners in proportion to their shares and paid out individually to each owner.

In the event that one of the owners were to die, their proportion of the property would form part of their estate and would pass to their heirs and assigns in accordance with any will or, where there was no will, as directed under the intestacy rules.

This option is more common in the following circumstances:

  1. where the owners are not married but are buying a property between themselves.
  2. where there are children from a previous relationship to whom one or other of you may wish to leave your share
  3. when one party has contributed more than the other to the purchase price

It is recommended in such cases that the parties draw up a separate agreement (called a Deed of Trust) to specify the individual share holdings and responsibilities of each owner in respect of both the property and any associated mortgage payments. It is also advised that all parties draw up wills specifying the disposition of their shares if they die.