Joint Tenancy Definition

Joint tenancy is where two people, who are known as joint tenants, jointly own a property 100% together with undivided right to keep or dispose of it. It is a legal state for two people which comes into being when they become married or civil partners and buy a home together.

There is one other way to jointly own a property under English & Wales law and this is called tenants in common. As tenants in common you can jointly own with a maximum of 4 legal owners and it is your intention to own a property separately to each other as an investment.

This article explains the legal aspects of joint tenancy. For further information, call us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply)

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FAQS about buying as joint tenants

With a joint tenancy, what rights to a property do both parties have?

You hold equal rights to the whole of a property you share ownership of as joint tenants. The shares in the property are 50/50, i.e. equal and cannot be otherwise.

I've been going out with my partner for 3 years, should we but as joint tenants or tenants in common?

The decision of how you hold the property is chosen by you and the joint owner. With this said, you would normally not buy the property as joint tenants until you are married or are in a longer term relationship. The reason for this is that until you get married, the laws in England and Wales offer very little (if any) protection and as such you should protect both of your individual interests and reflect these separately to each using a deed of trust and buying as tenants in common. You can read more about what a deed of trust can protect by clicking here.

When a property is sold, what happens?

When joint tenants both agree to sell a property, they divide the proceeds of the sale entirely equally. If a joint tenant passes their claim on a property to a new owner, the new owner has a tenancy in common and the joint tenancy is broken.

If one of the joint tenants dies, what happens?

If you die as a joint tenant, the property automatically and entirely passes to the other joint tenant. In legal terms, this is called 'right of survivorship'. The surviving joint tenant becomes the sole owner.

If I die, can I pass on my ownership to anyone other than the other joint tenant?

No because you don't own a separate share of the property. If you want to do this then you need to buy as tenants in common and then state in your will who you'd like your share of the property to go to.

Can one joint tenant keep their share of a property safe from receivers in the event of the other joint tenant going bankrupt?

No. As joint tenants you are jointly and severally liable for each other's debts. This means that receivers can claim assets right up to and including the entire property's value.

I am a joint tenant. Can I become a tenant in common?

Yes - there is technically no fee to do this but paying a small sum for appropriate expertise may save you time.

Want to know more, including how you can protect your individual property rights as tenants in common? Call 0333 344 3234 Local call charges apply) or email us at

*Joint Ownership Specialists - Fixed Fee – No Sale No Fee – On all Mortgage Lender Panels

Related News Articles

Basic Deed of Trust
Tenants In Common Definition

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