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Joint property ownership: Joint tenants vs tenants in common

by Sherron Alexander-Bedingfield | Oct 01, 2015
  • There are a variety of ways in which you can hold rights over a piece of property. If you own property jointly with your spouse, partner or friends, it is important to know whether you as owners are joint tenants or tenants in common. In both of these instances, the property is owned jointly, but the legal consequences are significantly different.
    joint property

    Property can be jointly held in one of two ways – where owners are registered as joint tenants or tenants in common. It is important to understand the difference between these types of ownership and to make sure that they are recorded correctly when you buy property.

    The Land Registry keeps records of most properties, including the names of the registered owners, whether the property is jointly or solely owned and in what capacity. A search of their records can easily and quickly establish this information. 

    When you first bought your property with your partner, you may have agreed to hold the property as joint tenants.  This agreement would cause the surviving joint owner to automatically be entitled to the whole of the property upon the death of the other joint owner – outside of any will made. However, as the years go by, your intention may change. It may be that the relationship has come to an end, one party contributed more to the initial purchase price or is paying a greater proportion of the property expenses.

    It is possible to prevent the property falling into the estate of the other joint owner. You can serve a notice of severance on the other party, causing the owners to become tenants in common; this can be done without the other owner’s consent. Where individuals hold property as joint tenants in common, different portions of the property are owned by different owners and the property does not automatically pass to the surviving owner upon the other’s death.

    We can assist you in ensuring that your jointly owned property is held in the way that best suits your circumstances. Joint tenancy and tenancy in common have extremely different consequences. If you are cohabiting, separated, divorced or jointly own property with another person, it is important that you understand the implications of that joint ownership. 

    If you need help regulating your jointly owned property in the UK, contact us at or call us on 020 7759 5531.


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