Legal Studio Talk Co-ownership Of Property

One of the things to consider when buying any property is who it is going to belong to

Given the rise in house prices and deposits required to get onto the first step of the property ladder, more and more people are now buying a property with their significant other, a friend or relative.

Regardless of your relationship with the other person who is investing in the property with you, it is important to understand and consider the two different options which exist for the co-ownership of property. 

“Co-ownership” simply refers to two or more people having an interest in the same piece of land at the same time. There are two ways in which co-owners may own property:
  • As joint tenants
  • As tenants in common

Joint Tenants

By choosing to hold the property as joint tenants, the names of both parties will be entered onto the Property Register at the Land Registry. They each own the whole of the property, and there is a presumption that the interest each person has in it is completely equal.

The main feature of joint tenancy is the right of survivorship.

The right of survivorship means that if one party dies, the ownership of the property automatically passes to the surviving party (or “tenant”). There is no option to leave your share of the property to anyone else in your will. On the death of the last remaining tenant, the property will form part of his or her estate and will pass in their will or under the rules of intestacy.

Tenants In Common

If you opt to own the property as tenants in common, you will each have a distinct beneficial share of the property. For example, you can specify a percentage or figure that represents each parties’ interest.

The entry made on the Property Register at the Land Registry can reflect the exact proportions in which the property is held. This can reflect the parties’ different deposit amounts or contributions towards mortgage payments.

The right of survivorship does not apply to tenants in common. This means that each party’s interest in the property will pass under their will. Where a party has not made a will, the rules of intestacy will apply. 

Where you decide to hold the property as tenants in Common, it is usual to also enter into a Declaration of Trust. This legally binding document records each tenant’s contributions to the property, including deposit, mortgage repayments and any refurbishment costs. It clearly outlines what each tenant would receive if the property were to be sold.

How Do I Decide?

Your solicitor should be able to offer you advice based on your individual circumstances. Sometimes there will be a tax-planning element to the choice you will make. If you are buying a property together with a partner or spouse, you may want to consider seeking advice from a wills specialist.
Circumstances often change throughout ownership of a property (thinking specifically that parties may marry and have children) which will affect how the parties wish to own a property. It is possible to change from tenants in common to joint tenants and vice versa. You should therefore make the right choice for you at the time of purchase, and not feel tied to trying to account for what may happen in the future.

This article was written and supplied by Legal Studio, law firm based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Visit their website at

Publish date: 28/08/2018

Publisher: New Home Finder