Legal Eagle Column: Co-ownership in conveyancing

Charlene Shillingford is a Chartered Legal Executive at Neves. She explains your options when buying a house with someone…

When two or more people own a property, they must choose whether they wish to co-own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common.

Although the terms contain the word ‘tenancy’ within them it doesn’t have any link to the landlord and tenant relationship.

The first option is to hold the property as joint tenants. This means that all owners of the property own the property as a whole rather than in specific shares.

If one of the owners of the property passes away their interest in the property automatically passes to the other owner or owners under the right of survivorship.

Their interest in the property will not be passed on to any beneficiary named in a will. This type of co-ownership is most common between married couples, since it allows the property to pass to the survivors without going through probate.

The second option is to hold the property as tenants in common. This form of co-ownership can record the equal or unequal shares/ interests that each owner has in the property.

If one of the owners passes away their interest in the property will pass to whoever has been named in their will as the beneficiary or under the rules of intestacy.

The right of survivorship does not apply. This type of co-ownership is common between couples who are unmarried or who have children from previous relationships or marriages.

The difference between the two forms of co-ownership is also relevant where couples, whether married or not, are separating.

If they hold the property as joint tenants, their change in circumstances may mean that they will not want their former partner to automatically inherit the property. In this instance, either one of the owners may sever the joint tenancy by serving notice on the other owner(s).

Once the notice has been served it can be registered at the Land Registry and from that moment forward the owners will beneficially own the property as tenants in common.

If you are moving house and need a conveyancer, please contact the team at Neves for a quote on 01908 304560.

This column was published in the August 2018 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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