When two or more people buy a property together there are two ways in which the property can be held, either as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common'.
When you co-own a property as joint tenants, each co-owner owns the whole of the property and neither owner has a specific or identifiable share.
If you sell the property, you are each entitled to half the sale proceeds regardless of how much you each contributed to the purchase price or to the mortgage repayments. Neither co-owner has a separate share in the property that can be sold.
When you die, the surviving co-owners will automatically own the whole of the property, regardless of any wishes you may have made in your Will regarding the property. This is called the ‘right of survivorship’. Property held under a joint tenancy cannot be disposed of by a Will.
This type of ownership is ideal for couples who wish to leave property to each other when they die.
However, if you enter a joint tenancy agreement and have children from a previous marriage or relationship, it could mean that when you die, your children will not inherit a share of that property.
If you want further information or advice on Will writing or how buying a property can affect your estate, please get in touch with our Will writing team.
‘Severing’ a joint tenancy
If you currently own property jointly as joint tenants, it is possible to change it into tenants in common. This is known as serving a ‘Notice of Severance’. You might wish to do this for a number of reasons, such as a change in your relationship with the co-owner. As the majority of properties are registered at the Land Registry, this will involve an application being made to add a note to the register of the title to the property. We can advise you what steps you need to take and our expert Conveyancer panel can help you with the application.