Co-ownership of the home – What are the options?


If you are going to own property with one or more people, you will need to decide how the property will be owned. This guide by Simpson Millar LLP hopes to explain the types of ownership, and the situations when they may be used.

Conveyancing Homes

The 2 types of ownerships

You can have either a:

  • beneficial joint tenancy, or a
  • tenancy in common

Your solicitor will be able to advise you which type of ownership is suited to your needs and it is best to decide what type to use when you buy or are given the property. After this point, you can change your mind as to which type of ownership you want but it is more difficult to do.

Being a joint tenant

Joint tenants own the property equally. It is not divided up into shares.

As joint tenants you must act together for example, and you must all agree if you wish to sell the property. If a joint tenant dies, the other joint tenants will take their share. Their share cannot be given away in a will. For example if one of the 3 owners dies, their share will be divided leaving 2 owners with 50% each.

Being tenants in common

As tenants in common you can divide up the share of the property however you like. If there were 2 tenants in common, one of you could have a 70% share, and one a 30% share.

You have full control over your share of the property. If you wish you can theoretically give away or sell your share. You also specify what should happen with your share should you pass away via your will.

If a tenant in common dies, it will be assigned under their will or the intestacy rules.

Which type of ownership is right for me?

Before you talk to your solicitor, it is a good idea to have a think about which type of ownership you’re most interested in. Then, you can get advice and they can help you arrange it.

Tenancy in common is a good way for someone to protect their ‘fair share’ of the property. For example, if someone pays three quarters of the mortgage, they can own three quarters as a tenant in common.

On the other hand, a tenant in common can have some problems with protecting their interests too. For example, one of the tenants may choose to sell their share to someone else. It would never have been the intention of the other tenants to jointly own property with the new buyer.

It’s not just all about the law! A good solicitor will be able to talk you through the option that is more suited to your personal needs.

It is also possible to set up a Declaration of Trust to cater for other situations, for example to protect an initial sum of money one party puts in for the deposit. These are more complicated but can suit situations where people have contributed different amounts of money.

Top tips

  • Read this guide and have a chat about it with whom you will be buying a property
  • Consider what your plans are for the property, and what you want to happen should you pass away or your circumstances change
  • When speaking to a solicitor about the buying of the property, talk through your interests and ideas with them

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