Where land and buildings, known as real property, is owned by two or more people, it can be owned either as “joint tenants” or as “tenants in common”. The type of ownership affects what owners can do with the property if they wish to dispose of it or if they die.
Joint tenants have equal rights to the whole property and it automatically passes to the other owner(s) on the death of one of the joint tenants. No provision in a Will can alter this right of succession. A marital home is often owned by spouses as joint tenants.
Tenants in common own an undivided share of a whole property. Each share can vary in size and the shares are not necessarily equal. It is usual for owners to have a legal agreement to protect their rights which includes a declaration of trust that they hold a property in specified shares. The agreement will cover such matters as what will happen if an owner wishes to dispose of their share, or if they die or are made bankrupt.
If a joint tenant wishes to make a gift of their share of a property, they must sever the joint tenancy and create a tenancy in common. This requires service of a written notice of change which is reported at the Land Registry, and it can be done without the agreement of the other owner(s).
The information in this article is believed to be factually correct at the time of writing and publication, but is not intended to constitute advice. No liability is accepted for any loss howsoever arising as a result of the contents of this article. Specific advice should be sought before entering into, or refraining from entering into any transaction.