Types of Property Ownership in the UK – Joint Tenancy vs Tenants in Common

One of the questions you’ll need to consider when purchasing a Property in the UK is who will be the owner and how the property will be held. There are a couple of legal differences to Property Ownership, particularly in relation to Joint Ownership and the question of Joint Tenants versus Tenants in Common. In this short article by our residential conveyancing team in Leicester, we look at the three types of ownership which are registered at the HM Land Registry. 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.

Sole Proprietor

This is where there is only one person named on the title as the proprietor of the property. This is the simple one, where there is only one buyer.

If however, two people’s names feature on the Mortgage, then a sole proprietor is not appropriate.

Joint Tenants

If the property is held as Joint Tenants, both registered owners will own the whole of the property together and will not each have a share and as such will not be able to leave a share of the property in a Will.

Married couples, or those in a civil partnership, often use this method of co-ownership.  This is because on the death of one co-owner, their interest in the property will automatically pass to the other co-owner and they will then own the entire property – this is known as “right of survivorship”.

However, for clients who have children particularly those from a previous relationship, then we find they want to leave their share of the Property in their Will to the children. In these circumstances, Joint Tenants would not be appropriate for the ownership of the property.

Tenants in Common

If the property is held on this basis, each owner owns a specific share in the property.  This does not necessarily need to be 50/50 and can be in any percentage as long as these add up to 100%.

When a property is held on this basis and one of the owners dies their share does not automatically pass to the surviving co-owner but will pass to whoever they have indicated they wish to leave their share in the property to in their Will.

Change your type of ownership

You can change from being either:

  • joint tenants to tenants in common, for example if you 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

Please speak to our conveyancing team if you want specific advice on legal ownership of property or want to change the type of ownership on existing property.

Author: Steven Mather
Steven is a Partner of Josiah Hincks and specialises in commercial litigation