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Joint ownership

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Quick Links

- Joint tenancy
- Tenants in Common
- Selling a jointly owned property 

- Buying a jointly owned property

Joint tenancy

Up to 4 people can jointly own a property. If you are an owner, you can’t be forced to move without a court order, additional loans (such as a re-mortgage) cannot be taken out on the property without your agreement and the property cannot be sold without your agreement or a court order.

Joint ownership means you own the property together. The law views you as a single owner, so you can only act like one owner. For example, you would need to remortgage the whole property; one of you couldn’t remortgage only their share.

If one of you dies, their part of the property will pass over to the other owners. You can’t leave your bit of the property to someone else in your Will.

If one of the joint owners has a debt against him or her, and the creditor tries to enforce that debt by getting money from the house, then the debt can be enforced against the whole value of the house, not just against the debtors share.

Joint ownership is usually selected by married couples or people in a civil partnership.

Tenants in Common

As a tenant in common, you will be considered in law to have a defined share of the property.  The shares do not have to be equal. This type of joint ownership is most commonly used when owners make an unequal contribution to the purchase price and/or it is part of inheritance tax planning.

If buying a property jointly with someone as tenants in common it is usual for a trust deed, or other agreement, to be signed at the same time.  This will clearly state who owns what share and what should happen if the either party wishes to sell.

The principal significant difference with this type if ownership and joint tenants is what happens if one of the co-owners should die.  In those circumstances the surviving joint owner does not automatically inherit the deceased’s share.  This will be pass to someone named in the will (if there is one) or to the person entitled under the rules of intestacy.

Selling a jointly owned property

Joint owners have equal rights to live in a property, so if one of you wants to sell everyone needs to agree. If you can’t get agreement, you may need to get a court order. This can be stressful and expensive so it is better for everyone to agree if they can.

One way to avoid this problem is to draw up a legal agreement before you move in together which states under what circumstances the property will be sold, what the shares are and how much notice needs to be given to the other owners before any sale. It is important that every joint owner gets their own independent legal advice so they understand how any agreement would affect their legal rights before they sign it.

Buying a jointly owned property

Your solicitor or conveyancer will be able to advise you on which type of joint ownership is better for you, taking into account things like estate planning, your debts and your relationship with the other joint owners.

It is possible to get a joint mortgage, but most lenders will not let more than 2 people have a joint mortgage. If there are more than two of you who want to buy a property together you may need to get specialist mortgage advice. You should always talk get advice and shop around to make sure that any mortgage deal is right for you. If you have a joint mortgage, you are all responsible for making all of the payments. This means that if one or more of you stops making payments then the others will all be responsible for covering the defaulters share of the payments. This is known as joint and several responsibility.


Other areas that may be of interest.

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