Terms of ownership: how do I find out if we are joint tenants or tenants in common for the flat we’ve just bought?

Question: My financial advisor recently asked whether my partner and I own our property as tenants in common or as joint tenants.

What does he mean by this, and how can I find out the terms of our ownership?

Answer: Joint tenants and tenants in common are ways in which you can own property where there are two or more owners.

As joint tenants, both parties will own the entire property.

In practice, this means that while you have an equal interest, when one owner dies their share automatically passes to the surviving owner.

This will be the case regardless of whether you have left your share in the property to someone else in your Will.

If you own the property as tenants in common, the parties will own specific individual shares.

While these shares could be equal, you may also choose to own the property in different proportions.

For example, where two purchasers are contributing unequal amounts towards the purchase price, they may wish this to be reflected in their ownership share.

The surest way to record these wishes is in a declaration of trust.

Speak with the solicitor who acted on your purchase to establish how the property is held and whether a declaration of trust is required.

There should be a restriction on the Land Registry title if the property is held as tenants in common.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Piers King, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here.

Piers King is a solicitor in the property department of Streathers Solicitors LLP.

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