What to know before purchasing a joint property

Buying a property is still an aspiration for many people but with the unpredictability that you can experience from the market, many people are now considering the option of jointly owning a home. Whether that be with your friend or partner – but it is important to look into every aspect of what this will involve at the outset rather than at a later stage when you want to be able to smoothly move on.

It’s important to be clear on how you would be owning the property. There are a couple options that are available to joint owners, whether you are joint tenants, tenants in common or you have a joint mortgage – these all involve different legal obligations so it is important you choose the best one to suit your situation.

Joint tenants is the most common type of ownership for people in a relationship as you have equal rights to the whole property rather than a specific share. It is important to note that with this type of ownership if either of you die the other joint owner automatically inherits your share despite what you may have drafted in your Will. You both have the right to come and go from the property as you wish but you cannot make the other person leave or change the locks. You cannot sell the property without the signed consent of the other and you cannot raise a mortgage or loan against the home without signed consent of the other.

For tenants in common, you would each own a specific share of the property but this is not necessarily equal shares. Up to four people can become tenants in common for a property and due to this it is a popular choice for friends or relatives who purchase together. If one of the tenants in common dies their share will be passed to their next of kin rather than the other legal owners. When purchasing as a tenant in common you are likely to have a declaration drawn up outlining how much share each person has, it is important to thoroughly check this document to ensure it is correct from the outset.

Deciding to take out a joint mortgage is most common with relationships where you are looking to become joint tenants of the property. When you have a joint mortgage both parties must give permission for any sale, re-mortgage or taking out a loan on the property. If one party stops paying the mortgage the other party would be expected to make the payment to ensure you do not miss payments.

To ensure you fully understand all the legal aspects of owning a joint property it is advisable to seek specialist legal advice. Joint ownership agreements are available to agree, confirm and futureproof your arrangement. We can guide you through this process to ensure you have the best arrangement for your situation from the beginning.

We operate as a joined up firm and are here to assist with any matters that may arise, so if you’re looking at joint property in connection with a recent divorce you can contact our Family team for advice. If you’re looking for advise on tax planning or following the death of a joint owner our Will Tax & Trust team are here to help. Or if you are disputing your current arrangement or entitlement with the share of your joint property please contact our Civil Disputes and Litigation team.

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