The owner of a house is the person whose name is on the title deeds. These are legal documents that are used to show who officially owns a house or piece of land, as well as other relevant information about the property. Title deeds are registered in the Land Register, a public register covering land and property in Scotland. What this means is that the owner isn't necessarily the person that paid for the house – what is important is who is registered as the owner.
If you are planning on buying a property, for example with your partner, a friend or a family member, you'll need to decide who will be registered as the legal owner. This will be important if you choose to sell in the future, particularly if a relationship has broken down.
Can you have more than one owner of a house?
Yes, you can choose to register as joint owners of the property. There isn't a limit on the number of joint owners that can be registered, but having more than four can make it more difficult to get a mortgage. Making important decisions about the property will require the agreement of all of the joint owners. This includes deciding to rent the property out, to sell it, or to take out a loan against it.
If I am registered as a joint owner how much of the property will I own?
Being a joint owner of a house doesn't mean you will own an equal share. The amount that you own will depend on the agreement that is made at the time you buy. One person might hold a more significant share if they have paid more in terms of the deposit or mortgage, or because they are going to spend more on improving or repairing the property.
How is it shown who owns what share in a property?
When registering the property in the Land Register the title deeds should state how shares in the property are divided up. You should speak with a solicitor for guidance on what ownership arrangement will work for you and make sure this is registered to reflect this.
What is a survivorship clause?
A survivorship clause is a formal legal clause that can be inserted into the title deeds of the property meaning that a joint owner's share in the property will pass to another joint owner when they die. For example, unmarried partners may wish to use a survivorship clause to make sure the surviving partner receives their share of their house. Survivorship clauses are also sometimes used for tax purposes. A solicitor can advise on whether a survivorship clause is a good option for you.
Ending joint ownership
If your circumstances change and a joint ownership arrangement is no longer practical there are a number of options. These will often depend on your particular circumstances and any agreement reached with the other joint owner. You might wish to buy their share, sell their share to another joint owner, or sell the house and share the profits. It is advisable to have a formal record of any agreement you make. A solicitor can give you advice on making such an agreement and draft this on your behalf.