How to tell if Property is owned as Tenants in Common

Wills FAQ Book

Nowadays more and more people are changing their home ownership from Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common in order to take advantage of Estate Planning Strategies that can help to protect their children's inheritance in the future.

One of the questions I am asked the most is "How to tell if a home / house is owned as Tenants in Common".

To do this firstly check any historical documents you may have from the most recent time your property was conveyed, this could be from when you originally purchased the property or when you last mortgaged the property.

If you cant find any such documents then you can search for property ownership information using the Land Registry Property Search Service

Simply enter you house number and postcode into the search form and you will then be presented with a list of registered properties that match your address, if your property is registered with the Land Registry you then have the option of paying £3 online to download a pdf copy of your title registration.

There are three different types of property ownership, Sole Owner, Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common.

Sole Ownership

If a home is owned by only one person then it is not registered with the Land Registry as either Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common, it is registered as a Sole Owner, you can only be a joint tenant or tenant in common if there is more than one owner of the property. A Sole Owner is able to create a Will that includes provision for gifting their property to their beneficiaries.

Joint Tenants

Sometimes referred to as Beneficial Joint Tenants, If owners have property registered with the Land Registry as Joint Tenants then this means that they own the whole of the title to the property jointly
and if one of were to pass away the survivor would automatically become the sole owner of the whole property.

If a property is registered with the Land Registry you will know if the owners are joint tenants because there will be no restriction registered against the proprietor’s name in Section B Proprietorship Register

Owning property as Joint Tenants means that you are not able to gift such property in a Will.

Tenants In Common

If owners are Tenants in Common this means that they each own a specific share of the property, this could be 50% each or any other shares adding up to 100% for example 40% / 60%.

If one owner dies their share DOES NOT automatically pass to the other owner but will pass to whoever they have gifted their share to in their Will. If there is no Will, the share will pass
according to the Rules of Intestacy

If the property is registered you will know that the owners are tenants in common because there will be a restriction registered in Section B Proprietorship Register that states:

‘RESTRICTION: No disposition by a sole proprietor or the registered estate (except a trust corporation) under which capital money arises is to be
registered unless authorized by an order of the court’.

This restriction alerts a Solicitor or Conveyancer to the fact that the owners are tenants in common and one of them alone cannot sell the property.

SEVERING A JOINT TENANCY

Making sure that Joint Owners become Tenants in Common is a key part of Estate Planning because it equalizes a couples Estate so that each owner has a defined share of the property that can be left to Trust in their Will.

If the property is registered as Joint Tenants then a Deed of Severance needs to be created and sent to the Land Registry, a Deed of Severance confirms that the owners now wish to own the property not as Joint Tenants but as Tenants In Common.

Severing a Joint Tenancy does not change the owners of the property it simply changes the way in which they own the property.

Useful Links

Joint Property Ownership
Severing A Joint Tenancy
Tenants In Common Versus Beneficial Joint Tenants
Make A Will Online