Joint Property Ownership
When two people purchase Property or Land in England & Wales, there are two ways in which it can be owned and registered with HM Land Registry these are as either Beneficial Joint tenants or Tenants In Common.
If you are buying a home Your Solicitor or Conveyancer will ask you on which basis you would like your Property / Land to be registered at the beginning of the conveyance process. It is important to consider your options and understand the differences carefully at the outset because the way in which you own your home can affect how your home can be distributed in the event of your death.
Tenants In Common
Owning and registering the property as Tenants In Common means that the property is owned by each owner having a defined share of the property. For example, spouses who each own 50% of the property. These shares can be equal or unequal depending upon what is required by the owners of the property.
If you own property on a Tenants In Common Basis it means that if one owner dies. The deceased owners share passes in accordance with the terms of those persons Wills. If a Will has not been made by the deceased then the deceased share is distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy.
Beneficial Joint Tenants
Owning and registering the property as beneficial joint tenants means that the whole property is owned by both owners absolutely. To put it another way, each owner is seen to own 100% of the property, as they do not have separate shares each.
As the property owners do not have a defined share they cannot make provision in their Will for the distribution of the property to their loved ones. This is because if one of the Beneficial Joint Tenants dies the surviving tenant automatically becomes the owner of the whole property.
This method of ownership has often been the popular choice in which property is owned. However nowadays with more and more people putting Wills and other Estate Planning instruments in place to provide for their loved ones and future generations this is now not always the case.
If you currently own your property on a Beneficial Joint Tenants basis you should consider your wishes for your estate should you die. Especially with regard to making a will or reviewing an existing one to ensure your wishes can be carried out by your executors when you die.
Finding Out How You Currently Own Your Property
Unless you have a very good memory or are able to dig out the original conveyancing paperwork. The only real way to be absolutely sure on how you own your property is to check your properties Title Deeds.
Although not all, the majority of property in England or Wales have a Title Number registered and recorded at HM Land Registry.
You Will need to search the property register to check on what basis your property has been registered. This can be done online via the Land Registry online service. If your property has been registered you can download a copy of your property registration.
Once you have a copy of the register you will find there is a section headed B: Proprietorship Register.
If under this heading you see an entry that looks similar to this:
“No disposition by a sole proprietor of the land (not being a trust corporation) under which capital money arises is to be registered except under an order of the Registrar or the Court”
You own the property on a Tenants In Common basis.
If this entry is not there, then your ownership will be on a Beneficial Joint Tenants basis.
What if My Property Is Not Registered with HM Land Registry?
If your property is not currently registered with HM Land Registry. Don’t panic, evidence of ownership in the form of title deeds is most often held by your bank or building society for safekeeping. This is because without registration your title deeds are the only legal proof of ownership.
If the title to the property is unregistered and you wish to register it, you will need some legal work done by a solicitor or conveyancer in order to convey the property into either Beneficial Joint Tenants or Tenants In Common basis.
Changing from Beneficial Joint Tenants to Tenants In Common
If you currently own property registered as Beneficial Joint Tenants and want to change to Tenants In Common so that. For example, you can gift shares of your property via a Will or Trust you will have to be Tenants In Common for any distribution via a Will or Trust to be effective.
This can be achieved by creating a Mutual Notice of Severance of the Joint Tenancy. Confirming that the joint tenancy has ended. Once this has been created and signed, HM Land Registry can be informed by sending the notice of severance along with completing via their SEV form.