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Tenants in Common or Joint Tenants – which is best for you?

Whether you’re part of a couple or a group of friends, there are two ways you can own a property – as Joint Tenants, or as Tenants in Common. All joint owners have equal rights to live in the property, and everyone has to agree before it’s sold. However, aside from this, both terms mean different things and entail different rights, so it’s important that you’re aware of these when you’re contemplating buying a property with others.

Joint Tenants

Co-owning a property as joint tenants means that everyone owns the whole of the property, and no one has a specific or identifiable share.

So, if joint tenants sell their property, each is entitled to an equal split of the proceeds of the sale, regardless of whether, say, one person put more towards the deposit.

When one of the joint tenants dies, the surviving co-owner or co-owners automatically own the whole of the property, regardless of any wishes expressed in the deceased’s will. This is called the “Right of Survivorship”.
This type of ownership works well for partners or spouses who wish to leave their property to each other when they die. However, a joint-tenancy agreement is not ideal if any of the co-owners has children from another relationship or marriage, as they will miss out on inheriting their parent’s share of the property. Likewise, a joint tenancy might cease to serve a co-owning couple if their relationship changes, or if one partner would prefer to put their half of the property into a trust.

Tenants in Common

If you co-own a property as tenants in common, each person owns a specific share of the property. This may be split equally, or it may vary, depending on people’s relationships and on how much each has contributed towards the purchase.

A tenancy in common agreement means that you can leave your individual share to chosen beneficiaries in your will, rather than it automatically going to your co-owning partner or partners. If you haven’t made a will before you die (see our blog on dying intestate), your share will pass to your nearest living relatives according to the

Rules of Intestacy

In this way, a tenancy in common agreement is ideal for friends and relatives who are buying together, allowing them to pass on their share of the property to someone else when they die. It also works for people who wish to leave their estate to children from previous relationships or marriages – making sure, of course, that they execute a valid will specifying this. People concerned with future costs of care homes can also benefit, in that they will only be means-tested on their share of the property, rather than the whole of it.

Our professional, experienced legal service will advise you with sensitivity on finding the best way to co-own your property – and even help you switch from a joint tenancy to a tenancy in common, if that’s appropriate.

We’ll also help you execute a valid will that gives you real peace of mind.

Contact us

TLB Planning specialises in legal affairs, insurances and funeral plans to take you and your loved ones “Through Life and Beyond”.

Our Legal Services staff have extensive experience in the field and are all STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) qualified Will Drafters, so you can be confident that we provide the highest professional standards.

Whether you’re in the north of the country - Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham, south – Kent or Devon, or in Wales, if you would like to talk to us about your plans for wills, Guardianship Clauses, Lasting Powers of Attorney, trusts and other matters, do get in touch on 01792 342 673 or email us at info@tlbplanning.org.