Joint property: A comprehensive guide

Whether you just bought your first home with your partner or whether you’ve inherited property together with other beneficiaries, it is important that you understand the rules of joint property ownership. We want to make it easy for you with this comprehensive guide to joint property.

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Who owns the property?

It’s not uncommon that you’ve lived in a property for years, maybe together with your partner or spouse but you’ve never checked whether you actually own all or part of the property.

Registered property

Today, most properties are registered at the land registry. The register holds details such as the owner of the property. If you are unsure about who owns the property, we advise you to contact the Land Registry and ask for a copy of the register of the property in question. You can do so online.

Unregistered property

If your property is not registered, the official owner of the property is on the title deeds.

In the case of unregistered properties Your mortgage provider usually holds your title deeds; or if you don’t have a mortgage on the property, unregistered title deeds are usually held by the owner or kept in a safe storage space with a solicitor. If the property is registered then the land registry will hold electronic copies of all relevant title deeds together with the official registers of title.

Your name on the mortgage

Note that your name on the mortgage does not mean that you own the property. It only means that you are responsible for paying the mortgage or part of the mortgage. If you believe you own part of the property, your name has to be in the register at the land registry or, if the property is unregistered, on the title deeds.

Joint property explained

When you buy a property with someone else, you must register it as jointly owned with HM Land Registry. The most common options are:

Joint tenants (also known as beneficial joint tenants):
  • Equal share in the ownership of the property.
  • Commonly used by couples buying together.
  • If one party dies, the property will automatically be given to the other joint tenant.
  • Transferring ownership to someone else in your will is not possible.
Tenants in common
  • Suitable if different shares of the property are needed but can also be used for equal shares.
  • Suitable if more than two people purchase a property together.
  • If one party dies, the property will not automatically be given to the other owner.

What if the partnership ends?

If your partnership ends and you are joint tenants, we strongly advise you to sever the joint tenancy and change it to tenants in common. If you die while in a joint tenancy, the other tenant will automatically become the sole owner of the property, despite what’s written in your will.

However, if you change your property ownership to tenants in common, you can leave your share of the property to whomever you wish.

Severing joint property

To sever a joint property, follow the steps below:

If your property is not registered, severing the joint property and putting up a restriction is more complex. Contact us to establish your full legal position

My partner has lost mental capacity. How does it affect our joint property ownership?

If your partner is judged incapable of signing legally binding documents, you may have to apply to the court of protection to be able to make decisions about the property by yourself. We understand that this is a difficult situation for you and we can assist you with the legal paperwork to speed up this process.

What is matrimonial home right?

Matrimonial home rights can be applied to people who are married or in a civil partnership and who don’t own part of the property that they live in.

The matrimonial home rights protect your right to live in the property that you’ve lived in during your marriage or civil partnership even though you don’t own a share of the property.

If you have any further questions or need assistance with applying for home right, feel free to contact us 0207 177 7579.

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