Co-ownership of property

This only applies in England and Wales.
If you are buying a property with another person then you need to decide how you will hold the property between you.
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Property can be held in two different ways - as joint tenants or tenants in common.

How you hold the property decides how the money or property is split if you ended up selling or in the event of your death.

If one party is putting more into the purchase price than the other, then this can be recorded in  a Cohabitation agreement or Declaration of trust.

To learn more about buying property with a spouse read Cohabitation and Marriage.

The key difference between joint tenants and tenants in common is what happens when either owner dies.

Where two people own a property as joint tenants, if one of them dies the other automatically inherits the deceased’s share (ie. owns the whole property). As a joint tenant you cannot give the property to anyone else in your will.

Most married couples buying a property together choose to own the property as joint tenants so that if one dies the other can carry on living at the property.

A joint tenancy will end automatically in several situations including where one party becomes bankrupt.

Either owner can end the joint tenancy without the other owner’s agreement. 

Where two people own a property as tenants in common they will own it in equal or unequal shares.

Tenants in common can hold the property in unequal shares to show the contributions made to the purchase price. The agreed proportions are recorded in a legal document.

Most friends buying a house together or unmarried couples hold property as tenants in common.

When a person dies as a tenant in common their share of the property forms part of their estate and will pass under their will.  Their family, rather than the co-owner, will inherit their share of the property.

If you buy as tenants in common it is recommended that you make a will if you do not already have one.

It is possible to change from joint tenants to tenants in common by severing the joint tenancy.  This can be done at any time by serving a notice to sever the joint tenancy.

Tenants in common can become joint tenants at a later date by entering into a declaration of trust.

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Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest