Keeping Joint Property Ownership Simple

Tim Townsend, head of residential property at Gardner Croft Solicitors, explains how to keep it simple.

There are two main ways of owning a property jointly with others. The first and most common type of ownership is as ‘joint tenants’, where the joint tenants each own the whole property. If one dies, the surviving owner automatically becomes the owner of the whole property.

It is worth noting that this is the position even if the deceased has left his share of the property to somebody else in his will. The gift in the will would fail, meaning that it may not be representative of the deceased’s wishes.

A joint tenancy may be suitable for married couples, but probably not appropriate in business purchases, or where two friends buy together, or in the case of second marriages.

The second way of owning a property is as ‘tenants in common’. In this case, each person owns a specific share of the property and is free to leave their share under their Will.

This means that each owner’s wishes can be fairly represented, and ownership this way can also be part of inheritance tax planning for married couples, where a joint tenancy would otherwise seem appropriate.

A tenancy in common can also be in equal or unequal shares. Particularly with the latter case, the owners should enter into a Declaration of Trust, which regulates their ownership of the property and provides vital evidence as to the amount of their share, obligations for repair and payment of bills and mortgage payments, plus what might happen in the event of death, separation or sale.

So, if you are buying a property with somebody else, it is important that you consider these matters and take legal advice from your solicitor. Setting out the relationship between the owners properly at the outset can save a good deal of grief later on.

This article does not constitute legal advice and applies to premises in England and Wales and does not obviate the need to obtain specific legal advice or other relevant professional advice relating to your specific circumstances. For all your property legal needs; including buying and selling properties and more information or advice please contact Tim Townsend for a free informal discussion or estimate on :