Joint Ownership – What Are Your Options?
Published 29 July 2020. By Aoife Hegarty
If you are considering purchasing a property with others it is important to ensure that your interests are legally protected. There are two different types of joint ownership that you must consider when purchasing a property with others: joint tenancy and tenancy in common.
It is important to take time to carefully consider each option and ensure that you choose the option that best protects you and your interests. Making the right decision now can save any difficulties further down the line, including potential expensive litigation in certain circumstances.
If the parties purchasing the property are expressed to hold the property as “joint tenants” no party has a specific share in the property. Instead each party has equal rights to the whole of the property.
Consequently, on the death of one of the parties, his or her interest will automatically pass to the surviving owner or owners, regardless if an alternative provision has been written into the deceased person’s Will. Each party is unable to leave property to anyone else so long as the joint tenancy is still in existence. It is not until there is only one sole survivor that they can then leave the property to whomever they please.
Additionally, as no party owns a specific share in the property, they are also restricted in selling or disposing of their interest without the consent of the other(s).
The simplicity of this option makes joint tenancy the common option for couples who would most likely make provision for their spouse or partner in their Will anyway. It is possible for a joint tenancy to be brought to an end by what is known as “severance”. This creates a tenancy in common.
Tenancy in Common
If the parties are expressed to hold the property as “tenants in common” then each party will own a particular share of the property. The purchasers should come to an agreement as to what proportion each party owns. The respective shares should then be reflected on the Deed (e.g. equal shares or one-third to one party and two-thirds to the other), and apart from very exceptional circumstances such declaration will be binding.
In the case of tenancies in common, each party can dispose of his or her particular share in the property without the consent of the others.
On death, the deceased person’s share will pass according to the terms of his or her Will, if there is one, or following the rules of intestacy if there is not. The share will not automatically pass to the other party or parties.
This type of joint ownership is more ideal for ascertaining exactly what share each individual has in the property. It also allows each party to make provision for any individual in their Will to inherit the property on their death.
It is important to note that this is an explanation of the both joint tenancy and tenancy in common in general terms. Therefore, if you are considering purchasing property with others, it is important that you seek individual legal advice. This will allow you to make the right choice which reflects your own interests and needs and tailors to your own individual circumstances.
This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.