Buying a home together

When two or more people purchase a house together they can hold the legal title between them in one of two ways: as joint tenants or tenants in common. The legal terminology may be confusing but it has nothing to do with tenancies and applies to both freehold and leasehold land.

So what is the difference?

Joint Tenants

Joint tenants own the whole property together. They have no definable share in it and if sold, the proceeds would be divided equally between them (even if the original price paid and any mortgage repayments were not equal). If one of the joint tenants dies then his “share” automatically goes to the surviving joint tenant(s). This is the case even if the deceased’s Will leaves their share of the property to someone else.

Tenants in Common

Unlike joint tenants, tenants in common each own a definite share in the property. For example, if there were two tenants in common, then one could own one third of the property and the other two thirds, perhaps to reflect the amount of capital that they have invested in the purchase or the amount of the mortgage repayments that they will be making. Their share does not automatically pass to the remaining tenant(s) in common on their death and will be dealt with under the terms of their Will (or under Intestacy laws if they have no Will). It is therefore advisable to have an up to date Will to deal with a new property purchase.

John Rutherford