You must decide which type of joint ownership you want if you buy, inherit or become a trustee of a property with someone else. You tell HM Land Registry about this when you register the property.
You can own a property as either ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’.
The type of ownership affects what you can do with the property if your relationship with a joint owner breaks down, or if one owner dies.
You can get legal advice from someone who specialises in property.
As joint tenants (sometimes called ‘beneficial joint tenants’):
- you have equal rights to the whole property
- the property automatically goes to the other owners if you die
- you cannot pass on your ownership of the property in your will
Tenants in common
As tenants in common:
- you can own different shares of the property
- the property does not automatically go to the other owners if you die
- you can pass on your share of the property in your will
Change your type of ownership
You can change from being either:
- joint tenants to tenants in common, for example if you get a divorce or separate and want to leave your share of the property to someone else
- tenants in common to joint tenants, for example if you get married and want to have equal rights to the whole property
There’s no fee to do this.
You can also change from sole ownership to tenants in common or joint tenants, for example, if you want to add your partner as joint owner. This is called transferring ownership.
Sell the property if the other owner has lost mental capacity
You’ll have to apply to the Court of Protection if you want to sell the property but the other owner has lost ‘mental capacity’.
Check your ownership details
You can find out what type of joint ownership you have by checking documents such as a:
- property transfer
- property lease
- trust deed, also known as a ‘declaration of trust’ (a document stating an owner’s share in a jointly owned property)
A solicitor, conveyancer or legal executive can help you check what type of joint ownership you have if you’re unsure.
Your type of ownership can sometimes change without your knowledge, for example if one of the other owners goes bankrupt.