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Property Buying Guide

Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common

Legally there are two types of joint ownership (also known as joint equity or property co-buying). You can either own the property as ‘joint tenants' or as ‘tenants in common'. Do not be put off by the terminology. It has nothing to do with tenancies and applies to freehold or leasehold property.

Joint tenancy

Under this agreement the joint owners together own the whole property and do not have a particular share in it. If one of the owners dies the other automatically becomes the sole owner. This would be the case even if a will had been made leaving the deceased owner's ‘share' to someone other than the co-owner. This type of tenancy would not be appropriate for friends buying together.

Tenancy in common

This is the opposite of joint tenancy in that the tenants in common each have a definite share in the property. For example A and B could own the property in equal shares, or A could own one fifth with B owning four fifths. This would be the most appropriate agreement where people want to own a property in separate pre-determined shares.

Under this form of ownership if one of the owners dies, his share of the property will pass on to whoever he specifies in a will, or if a will is not made, in accordance with the rules of intestacy (someone dying without leaving a will). If you are planning to make a will (and it would be wise to do so) you should have it drawn up before you sign the transfer deed that passes the legal ownership of the property to you. This way you will save the time, money and inconvenience of having to change your will.

Request joint ownership mortgage advice here.    Your conveyancing solicitor who will guide you through the legal process will also help with joint ownership agreements, trust deeds as well as conveyancing.

Which form of joint ownership should you opt for?

This depends upon personal choice and your particular circumstances. The joint tenancy is most commonly adopted between married couples where there is perceived to be no advantage in defining separate shares in the property and where it would be the intention that on the first death the property would automatically pass to the surviving spouse. The alternative basis of a tenancy in common will often be used between brothers and sisters, parents and children, unmarried couples, business partners and the like. In these relationships it might be desirable for specific shares in the property to be identified and for each owner to be able to leave his or her share in the property to a named person other than the owner.

Find out more about Joint Ownership, Joint Equity and Co-Buying a Property in our Guide:
What's good about joint ownership? What are the downsides of joint ownership?  l How much can we borrow for a joint ownership mortgage? l Drawing up a trust deed, or declaration of trust and joint ownership agreement l Example of a declaration of trust l Example of a joint ownership agreement l Joint mortgages and how the finances could work when you buy with others l Finding someone to invest with and tips for those using joint ownership schemes where you can meet other prospective joint owners. l Frequently asked questions about joint ownership 

Most useful and most popular pages on this site:

Look for your First Property l Seek First Time Buyer Mortgage Advice l See our Best First Mortgages Comparison Table l Find out about First Time Buyer Mortgages l Find out How to Buy a House l Learn all about The First Time Buyer Mortgage l Shared Ownership

Note: The law is different in Scotland. A joint tenancy is achieved by what is called a 'survivorship destination' in the transfer deed and a tenancy in common is achieved by a destination to the buyers and their respective successors. The second alternative is the most common way of taking title to the property, which means that succession to the owners' shares in the property will be governed by their wills or by the rules of intestate succession.

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