What is Joint Ownership?
Joint Ownership is when two people purchase a property together. This is a common process between married or unmarried couples, friends and family members. Before completing your purchase, you’ll need to make important decisions about your shares in the property and how you would like to own the property together.
In this guide, PDR Property Lawyers will outline the two different ways in which a property can be held by joint owners, and what to think about when progressing with a Joint Ownership.
What are your options?
The two options available to you when owning a property jointly are ‘Joint Owners’ (otherwise known as Joint Tenants) or ‘Owners in Shares’ (otherwise known as Tenants in Common). Let’s take a further look into what each of these legal terms entail.
As Joint Owners, you will have entirely equal shares in the property. Even if you put in an unequal amount of money into the purchase, you will still have equal shares.
You will need to understand that if one of you dies, the share in property automatically goes to the other shareholder, giving them full ownership. This overrides the deceased’s will. When the remaining owner dies, the entire value of the property follows the instructions left in their will only.
Changing Ownership Type
If you wish to convert from Joint Ownership to Owners in Shares, you must complete a ‘notice of Severance’. This is the process of supplying the other owner of your property with a written notice, saying that you ‘Sever the Joint Ownership’. From the moment the notice has been served, you will have successfully converted to Owners in Shares. Regardless of how much you contributed to the property, the shares will be held equally.
You will not need the agreement of the other owner to sever the joint ownership and in some cases, even if the other owner does not receive a correctly sent out notice, it will still be served. Situations such as Bankruptcy will automatically sever the Joint Ownership.
Whether you are looking to sever the Joint Tenancy or you have been dealt a Notice of Severance, it is highly recommended you seek legal advice. The Notice of Severance will need to be noted at the Land Registry. You’ll also want to protect your share in the property, especially if you don’t agree that the shares should be held equally.
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Choosing the Right Option
- You will have equal rights to the whole property
- If one shareholder dies, the surviving owner owns 100% of the property
- You will not need to declare a Form 17
- Costs less in legal fees
Think very carefully about how you would like to share the property, whether it is equally 50:50 or another proportion. Your decisions at the start may have a large impact on the division of money when the property is sold.
It’s important to decide on the shares each of you will hold in the property in case one of you should die, and consider the tax consequences. Please note, however, that if the relationship breaks down, the family law courts will have the power to decide what will happen to the property.
It is essential that you agree the proportion of shares in a property if you are purchasing as business partners. You’ll also want to agree what happens if one or both of you wish to sell. The most common option for this type of partnership is Owners in Shares, with a separate Deed of Trust prepared in detail.