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Difference between Tenants in Common and Joint Tenants

Now, the terms "tenant" can cause confusion for most, and leave you thinking that this doesn't apply to you as you own your property. However, we are here to tell you that you are a tenant in one way or another if you own your property with someone else.

In fact, there are two different ways that you can own property with somebody else. You will usually be asked to choose how you want to own your property during the conveyancing process. Don’t worry if you can not remember which you are, we can easily check this for you.

So, what is the difference between the two and why does it matter?

Joint Tenants

If you and your co-owner own your property as joint tenants this means you each own 100%.

Therefore, if one of the joint tenants passes away the remaining co-owner automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. You are unable to leave the property to anyone else in your Will.

If the property is sold the proceeds must be split 50:50, unless both joint tenants agree otherwise.

Tenants in Common

If you and your co-owner own a property as Tenants in Common this means that you each own a distinct share in the property.

For example, if you have put more money into the purchase you may decide that the property should be owned in unequal shares, Tenants in Common allows you to do this. If the property is then sold the proceeds are shared in the split agreed by the owners.

If you own property as Tenants in Common in unequal share it is important you have a Trust Deed or a Declaration of Trust. This is a legal document which does two things:

1. it sets out who owns what percentage share of the equity

2. it can be used to spell out a way for one party buying the other one out. So, if one wants to sell, then rather than putting the property automatically on the open market, they agree to offer it to the other party first.

Being Tenants in Common also allows co-owners to leave their share of the property separately in their will. This is especially important if you have a Life Interest Will.

How will I know which one I am?

If you have a copy of your title document from the Land Registry, called an official office copy, you can easily check if you are Tenants in Common.

You need to look for a "Form A Restriction". This will usually read:

“No disposition by a sole proprietor of the registered estate (except a trust corporation) under which capital money arises is to be registered unless authorised by an order of the court.”

If you can see this then you are already Tenants in Common!

How to become Tenants in Common

If your property is registered at the Land Registry, changing to Tenants in Common from Joint Tenants is relatively straightforward. All you will to do is complete a Form SEV and send it to the Land Registry.

However, if you are completing a Life Interest Will or Heritage Will with Goldsborough-Pike & Co, will do all of this for you. The cost of checking the land registry, your title deeds and completing the necessary paperwork is included in our fixed fee.

Contact us today to book a free appointment with one of our legal advisors to find out more.

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