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Joint ownership: Your guide to paperwork

Buying a home with another person can be a great option when you’re looking to get on the property ladder. It gives you the chance to boost your deposit together and of course share the mortgage payments.

If you’re married or you’re buying a house with your partner and are unmarried, you’ll be entering joint ownership. It’s even possible for up to four friends to buy property together too.

Do I have specific rights with joint ownership?

When you buy through joint ownership each person is a legal owner. This means:

  • The property can’t be sold without agreement on both sides or a court order
  • Both parties must agree to any additional loans being taken out on the property/any amendments to the official copies

Are there different kinds of joint ownership?

There are two distinct forms of joint ownership; joint tenancy and tenants in common. Here we take you through both and detail any specific documentation that will be required.

Joint Tenancy

If you’re joint tenants, you’ll both own the entirety of the property and have a 100% stake in its value. As you own it completely together you effectively act as a single owner and you’re viewed that way legally. This means that it can’t be sold without the agreement of both parties and if one of you passes away it will automatically go to the other person.

When married couples buy a property together they’ll usually opt to be joint tenants. It’s also the preferred option of most unmarried couples where there are no unmarried children from previous relationships.

Documentation: There is no specific piece of paperwork that details your joint tenancy as you both own 100% of it. Both your names will be included on the Title Deed (a legal document with evidence as to who owns a property) as you will together be the registered owners. You will need to apply for a joint mortgage and both will be required to provide the usual paperwork, including:

  • Passport or driving licence to prove identity
  • Utility bills
  • Last three months payslips
  • Bank statements for last three to six months
  • Proof of benefits received
  • P60 from employer
  • Accounts & Tax Return if self-employed

With a joint mortgage, you are both liable to make payments as both parties are bound by the mortgage conditions.  

Tenants in Common

Owning a home jointly as tenants in common, means that you each own a specific share of the property. Each share doesn’t have to be equally sized and can be left to someone else in the owner’s will. This is typical if you’re buying a property with friends or relatives.

If one party wants to sell their share, they have the right to do so. There are a few options here: a share can be sold to somebody else meaning the remaining tenant in common now has a new co-owner. However, a clause in the deed usually states that co-owners get first refusal on the sale of a share, meaning it has to be offered to them before it is offered to other parties.

If the other tenant in common doesn’t want to buy the other share and a willing buyer cannot be found, both parties can petition the court to “partition” the property, by which the court orders the sale and another buyer purchases the entire property. Each tenant in common then receives a percentage that’s equal to their percentage of ownership.

Documentation: As you don’t all own all the property it’s important to document exactly what each of you does. This can be done through a Declaration of Trust which is a legal document that records each person’s contribution towards the purchase and the share they own. You can also use a Deed of Trust to record mortgage and maintenance contributions to ensure when sold each owner gets a fair proportion of what they put in.

Documentation required to change the form of joint ownership

You can change the form of joint ownership one way or the other with the Land Registry.

You won’t have to pay anything, but will need the agreement of all owners.

This guide to saving for a mortgage was produced in collaboration with MHM, largest cultural strategy and research agency in the UK

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