The difference between joint tenants and tenants in common

April 7, 2017

You must decide which type of joint ownership you want if you buy, inherit or become a trustee of a property with someone else. You tell the Land Registry about this when you register the property.

You can own a property as either ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’.

The type of ownership affects what you can do with the property if your relationship with a joint owner breaks down, or if one owner dies.

Joint tenants

As joint tenants (sometimes called ‘beneficial joint tenants’):

you have equal rights to the whole property
the property automatically goes to the other owners if you die
you can’t pass on your ownership of the property in your will

Tenants in common

As tenants in common:

you can own different shares of the property
the property doesn’t automatically go to the other owners if you die
you can pass on your share of the property in your will

Can this be changed?

You can change from being either:

joint tenants to tenants in common, eg if youdivorce or separate and want to leave your share of the property to someone else
tenants in common to joint tenants, eg if you get married and want to have equal rights to the whole property

There’s no fee to do this.

You can also change from sole ownership to tenants in common or joint tenants, eg if you want to add your partner as joint owner. This is called transferring ownership.

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