Co-Ownership of Property Joint Tenants
If you own a property with one or more other people as joint tenants, all the tenants own the property in its entirety. For example, if a husband and wife own a property as joint tenants, they are both wholly entitled to the entire property simultaneously and cannot be said to be holding specified shares of the property. If one of them dies, the surviving joint tenant automatically becomes solely entitled to the property, irrespective of what is provided for in the deceased's will. This has various implications as the property passes directly to the survivor(s) and does not form part of the deceased's estate until the last surviving owner dies, when the whole of the value of the property will be included in the valuation of that person's estate. If the property is sold, all the joint tenants will share the net sale proceeds equally.
Tenants in Common
A tenancy in common differs from a joint tenancy in that the co-owners own the legal title jointly and each also owns a beneficial share of its equity, what it is worth or the eventual sale proceeds. If 2 tenants own a property in equal shares, then as tenants in common they would both own the legal title jointly and each would be entitled to one half of the beneficial interest in the property. Tenants in common can own shares in a property in any agreed proportion. However, in spite of the fact that co-owners each own a beneficial share of the property, this does not mean that the land can be physically divided between them. A co-owner under a tenancy in common is entitled to access to the whole of the property, however small their interest. The rule of survivorship does not apply to this kind of tenancy so co-owners as tenants in common are free to leave their share in the property to whomever they choose. If you decide to hold a property as tenants in common with someone, the provisions of your will determine who will inherit your share. If you die leaving no will, your share will pass under the laws of intestacy to your spouse or nearest blood relative and your co-owner(s) will not necessarily inherit your share.
On sale, the net sale proceeds will be shared among the owners in proportion to their ownership shares. A decision regarding the way a jointly owned property is owned need not be permanent. If circumstances change, it is possible to change from one form of ownership to the other. If you are a joint owner of a property then you will normally be registered as such on the deed of title at the Land Registry. Which type of ownership is best for you will depend on your individual circumstances. It is important that you discuss your options with a solicitor and we will be pleased to give you individual advice. In addition, it is always sensible for property owners to have a will, not only because this will probably be the biggest investment of your life but it will simplify the administration of the estate and ensure you leave your home to the person(s) you want it to go to after your death. Go to our Wills, Trusts and Probate page for more information on Wills.