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Co-ownership of property


Lawson-West Solicitors - Expert Author

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3 July 2013

If you buy a property with someone else - be it husband, wife, partner, friend or family member, it is important to ensure your intentions about the co-ownership are clear to avoid possible difficulties in the future.

There are two forms of co-ownership – joint tenants or tenants in common. When a property is owned as joint tenants the property is owned wholly by each owner, there are no divisible shares. The essential feature of joint tenants is the survivorship principle. This essentially means that when one co-owner dies, that co-owner’s interest in the property will legally pass to the surviving owner(s). Upon their death(s) the sole survivors will be the sole owners of the property and the property will pass to their estate. However, when owning a property as tenants in common the co-owners own the property in distinct shares and when one co-owner dies their share will not automatically pass to the surviving owner(s).

The importance of getting your choice right is highlighted by the recent case of Pankhania V Chandegra (2012). This case involved an aunt and her nephew buying a house together and co-owning the property as tenants in common in equal shares. The aunt lived at the property with her husband. The aunt later claimed that the property had been purchased for her as sole beneficial owner and as her marital home.  However the nephew claimed that the property had been purchased for his uncle to live in and as an investment property for himself and his aunt. The Court had to decide whether there was an underlying agreement between the aunt and nephew which could displace the tenancy in common ownership and the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeal was that there was not.

There are several cases where co-ownership has been brought before the Courts, therefore it is clearly an area where co-owners need to think long and hard about how they will own their property together.

About the Author

Lawson-West specialise in commercial, business and employment law. Our team of dedicated commercial solicitors can help with buying or selling a business, business law and disputes, landlord and tenant issues and commercial property. Our expert employment team can offer practical advice and guidance on all aspects of employment law including redundancy, compromise agreements and dismissal procedures. Visit for more information.

Contact Rita Raj at Lawson-West on  0116 212 1000 to discuss your options and for help in making the right decision.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-07-11 09:03:20 in Legal Articles

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