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Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common in Property Ownership

A question that comes up often is… “What is the difference between ‘joint tenants’ vs ‘tenants in common‘?” 

The tenancy in which you purchase a property is important and should reflect the purchaser’s future intentions. Joint tenants vs tenants in common is an important consideration to make prior to purchasing a property.

In most cases, married couples, family members and couples who have been in a relationship for many years will purchase as joint tenants

But couples who are in a new relationship, are in blended families, are not related or where there are numerous owners will normally choose to be tenants in common.

What is the main difference between joint tenants vs tenants in common?

“Joint tenants”

Joint tenants” means that the registered proprietors, of which there can be more than two, own the property jointly in equal shares. If either of the registered proprietors die, then the property is automatically transferred to the surviving registered proprietor(s).

“Tenants in common”

Tenants in common” means that each registered proprietor owns a share in the property. These shares do not have to be equal and can be 50/50, 75/25 or any other combination, provided that the shares add up to 100%. On the death of a registered proprietor, the property does not automatically transfer to the surviving registered proprietors, but the deceased’s Will determines to whom the deceased’s share in the property is to be transferred. Often the nomination of tenants in common is for taxation purposes.

Examples of property ownership scenarios

Scenario 1 – New Relationship

John and Margaret are in a new relationship and purchase a home together. As their relationship is reasonably new, they purchase as tenants in common in equal shares (50/50). Some years later, John passes away. The property is not automatically transferred to Margaret, instead it is transferred in accordance with the terms of John’s Will.

Scenario 2 – Blended Family

Bob and Sue are in a blended family and have been married for 10 years. Both have children from previous relationships. By purchasing the property as tenants in common, should either Bob or Sue die, then his or her interest in the property can be dealt with in accordance with their individual Wills.

Scenario 1 – Married Couple

Tom and Mary are married and own property as joint tenants. Mary passes away. Tom is then able to transfer the property into his sole name by lodging a copy of Mary’s Death Certificate, together with a Notice of Death form, at Land Registry Services.

Which option is the right one for you?

It is important that you consider which tenancy is right for you and what you wish to achieve with your share of the property should you pass away.

Please do not hesitate to contact our expert property law team to guide you through any tenancy queries you may have.

Important Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and for reference purposes only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.



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