When you jointly own a property with someone, you cannot sell or mortgage it without the consent of the other party.
There are two types of joint property ownership.
- Joint Tenants
- Tenants in Common
Let’s briefly discuss each type.
- Joint Tenants
If you own a property with someone as ‘Joint Tenants’, the property automatically goes to the other party when you die. Bear in mind that you cannot leave the property to a third party in your will. Even if you leave your entire estate to a third party in your will, this particular property will go to the joint owner.
But what if you don’t have a will? Will the rules of intestacy apply, making the property go to a third party? No! In every situation, the property will go to the joint owner.
- Tenants in common
If you own the property with someone as ‘Tenants in Common’, then each party holds a share of the property. You can leave your share to anyone in your will. It does not automatically pass to the other party when you die.
For the sake of convenience during inheritance, it is assumed that each owner holds 50% of the property unless otherwise stated in the title.
However, it is possible for parties to hold unequal shares of the property. For example, if one party paid only 30% of the property price when buying it, the joint owners may decide that the shares be divided as 70/30 instead of 50/50.
In the case of a divorce, the Court decides the percentage of shares received by both parties. While making its decision, the Court will consider the financial situation and needs of both parties.
How to sever a Joint Tenancy?
If you own a property with your partner as ‘Joint Tenants’ and you start to feel that your relationship is going to break down, you may want to leave your share of the property to someone else. You cannot do so if you continue as ‘Joint Tenants. Therefore, you will have to sever the ‘Joint Tenancy’.
To do so, you need to take two steps:
- Send a written notice of severance to the other party
- Get it registered against the Title of the property
Aristone solicitors can help you to sever a joint tenancy. It would take us just about an hour to get a notice ready and register it with the Land Registry.
How to find out if you are owning a property as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common?
To find out if you are Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common, get in touch with us. We can look up the Title of the property in the Land Registry. However, we can do this only if your property is registered with the Land Registry.
You can check the Land Registry yourself if you go online. If you are ‘Tenants in Common’, you will see a restriction on the webpage as shown below.
Restriction: 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 Registrar or the court.
Note: You may have written a will where you left your entire estate to your partner. After severing the Joint Tenancy, you have to make sure that you change your will. Otherwise, the property will still go to your partner.
Aristone Solicitors can help you write a new will or we can check the previous will to see if a new will is really necessary.