Joint Ownership

If you are purchasing a property in joint names then you have a choice as to how you own it. The two options are either joint tenants or tenants in common. Up to four people can be recorded on the legal title for a property as being the registered proprietors.

When you own a property as joint tenants it means that you each own the whole of the property. There are no shares, and if one of you should pass away then the property would automatically become the property of the survivor or survivors. This means that you can’t leave your ownership of the property to anyone else in your Will.

A joint tenancy can be changed later by one party giving notice to the other party or parties that they wish to sever the joint tenancy.  This would have the effect of the owners becoming tenants in common.

The second option is to hold the property as tenants in common. This means that you each own a notional share of the property. If one of you should pass away then that person’s share in the property would pass according to their Will (or if there is no Will, the Intestacy Rules). If you choose this option, it’s really important that you put a Will in place to set out your wishes on who should inherit your share of the property.

When you hold a property as tenants in common, you don’t have to own the property equally, i.e. 50/50. You can own it in different shares, for example 60/40 or 70/30, and you can specify how much one party has contributed and how the proceeds of sale should be distributed.

If you decide to own the property as tenants in common in unequal shares, you should speak to a solicitor about putting in place a Declaration of Trust which will formalise and document your intentions.

Suzanne Dixon is a Senior Associate in the residential conveyancing department at Sintons. To speak to Suzanne, please contact her at or 0191 226 7805.

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