Joint Ownership

Published: 03/02/2024 By Allan Fuller

Buying with a friend or your partner and the legal difficulties that can arise.  

 You must decide which type of joint ownership you want if you buy, inherit, or become a trustee of a property with someone else. Your solicitor should explain the difference between being  ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. 

The type of ownership affects what you can do with the property if your relationship with a joint owner breaks down, or if one owner dies.

As Joint tenants
  • you both have equal rights to the whole property.
  • the property automatically goes to the other owner (s) if one of you dies.
  • you cannot pass on your ownership of the property in your will.

As tenants in common:
  • you can own different shares of different amounts in the property.
  • the property does not automatically go to the other owners if you die.
  • you can pass on your share of the property in your will.

You can change from being either:
  • joint tenants to tenants in common, for example if you get a divorce or separate and want to leave your share of the property to someone else
  • tenants in common to joint tenants, for example if you get married and want to have equal rights to the whole property

You can also change from sole ownership to tenants in common or joint tenants, for example, if you want to add your partner as joint owner. This is called transferring ownership.

Can you sell the property if the other owner has lost mental capacity?
You will  have to apply to the Court of Protection if you want to sell the property if the other owner has lost ‘mental capacity’.