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Joint Property Ownership Explained

Joint ownership (sometimes called co-ownership) occurs when two or more people become the legal owners of a property. The information in this guide explains how to check whether your title is a joint tenant or tenants in common and how to change proprietorship.

Different Types of Joint Property Ownership

Buying, inheriting, or becoming a trustee of a property with someone else, means you would need to choose one of the joint of ownership types.

Hence, you must decide whether it will be ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’ when registering land or property with HM Land Registry (HMLR).

This is important because it will affect what you can do with the property (e.g. if a relationship breaks down, or a joint owner dies).

Important: A help guide explaining how joint ownership of property works (Cydberchnogaeth) is also available in Welsh language. You can also search for a legal adviser online (e.g. by area of law).

Beneficial Joint Tenants

As a joint tenant, you:

  • Get equal rights to the whole property.
  • Cannot pass on ownership of the property in your will.
  • Should be aware that the property would go to the other owners by automatic process if you die.

Tenants in Common

Being titled as tenants in common means you:

  • Can own different shares of the property.
  • May pass on your share of the property as part of a last will and testament.
  • Should be aware that the property would not go to the other owners by automatic process after death.

Changing the Type of Ownership

There is no fee to change from being (either):

  • Joint tenants to tenants in common (e.g. after getting a divorce or separation).
  • Tenants in common to beneficial joint tenants (e.g. wanting equal rights to the whole property after getting married).

Note: You can transfer ownership of your property (e.g. change from sole ownership to joint tenants or tenants in common). The most common reason for transferring ownership is to add a partner as a joint owner.

How to Check Ownership Details

The documentation that you have will show the type of joint ownership of property. Hence, you can find out by checking whether you have a:

  • Property transfer
  • Property lease
  • Declaration of trust (trust deeds are documents that state the share of each owner in a jointly owned property)

Even so, there are other ways to check what type of joint ownership you have, such as by hiring the services of a conveyancer, legal executive, or a solicitor.

Note: Joint property ownerships can change by automatic process (e.g. if one of the other owners is applying for bankruptcy).

Severance of Joint Tenancy

You should use application form SEV to enter a Form A restriction on severance of joint tenancy by agreement or notice (e.g. change from joint tenants to tenants in common).

There is no need to get agreement from any other owners to make this type of joint ownership change. Even so, a conveyancer, legal executive, or a solicitor can make the application on your behalf.

If other Owners Agree to the Change

Follow these three steps to make an application when the other owners are in agreement to the change:

  1. Download the application to enter (SEV) (e.g. register a ‘form A restriction’ when all owners agree).
  2. In some cases, you may also need to provide some supporting documentation.
  3. Fill in the form and send it to HM Land Registry Citizen Centre (there are no charges for this service).

If other Owners Do Not Agree to the Change

  1. You will need to serve a notice of severance on the other owners if they do not agree to the change.
  2. Use the same application to enter (SEV) to register a restriction when you do not have an agreement. You can use application form RX1 to enter a restriction if you are unable to supply evidence of severance options listed in form SEV.
  3. In some cases, you may also need to provide some supporting documentation.
  4. Fill in the form(s) and send it to HM Land Registry Citizen Centre (there are no charges for this service).

HM Land Registry
Citizen Centre
PO Box 74
GL14 9BB

If You Need to Send Supporting Documentation

The notice of severance (e.g. signed by all the owners) should be the original or a certified copy. Another section explains how to certify a document in greater detail.

What if you cannot get signatures from the other owners? In this case, you can send a letter certifying that you (any):

  • Gave a notice of severance to all the other owners.
  • Left notices at the last known home or business address of the other owners (in the United Kingdom).
  • Sent notices by registered post or by recorded delivery to the last known home or business address of the other owners and they did not get returned undelivered.

Changing from Tenants in Common to Joint Tenants

The first step is to get agreement from all the other joint owners. Then, to change from being tenants in common to joint tenants, you would need to:

  1. Complete a new trust deed or update the original (you may need a conveyancer for this step).
  2. Download the ‘cancel a restriction: registration (RX3)‘ document if there is already a registered version.
  3. You would need to provide some supporting documentation (see below).
  4. Fill in the form(s) and send it to HM Land Registry Citizen Centre (there are no charges for this service).

Sending Supporting Documentation

You must include at least one of the following documents:

  • Either the original or certified copy of the new or updated trust deed (you must have all owners sign it).
  • A certified copy of a transfer. It must show that all owners with individual shares of the property transferred them to all ‘beneficial joint tenants’.
  • A certificate from a conveyancer that confirms all owners with shares of the property signed a new trust deed.

You would also need to include (either):

  • A statutory declaration (e.g. prepared by a conveyancer).
  • A ‘Statement of truth’ (one you prepared yourself or one you created using form ST5).

Furthermore, the statement of truth must:

  • Be in written format and include the specific wording:
    • “I believe that the facts and matters contained in this statement are true”.
  • Be signed by the actual person who creates it.

Any supporting documentation must prove (all):

  • Nobody other than the named joint owners have shares of the property.
  • None of the joint owners is (all):
    • Being made bankrupt.
    • The subject of a charging order from any creditors.
    • Mortgaging their share of the property.
  • All joint owners have become ‘beneficial joint tenants’ and now own the property together.

Selling if an Owner Loses Mental Capacity

In cases where an owner has lost mental capacity (e.g. they are unable to make decisions for themselves), you would usually need to apply to the Court of Protection to be able to sell the property.

As a result, losing mental capacity generally means:

  • The person cannot sign legally binding documents (i.e. another person would need to make decisions on behalf of someone else).
  • Someone needs appointing to take the place of the owner who lost mental capacity before the sale can go ahead.

Appointing Someone to Act for an Owner

It would be necessary to appoint another person to act on behalf of the owner who lost mental capacity even in situations where:

Note: Having a registered power of attorney means you may not need to apply to the Court of Protection. You can read further guidance about selling jointly owned property (COP GN2) on the GOV.UK website.

What Forms Do You Need?

Some of the official forms and documents you would need to download and fill in, include:

  • Form COP1 (to apply for a Court of Protection order allowing you to make financial and welfare decisions for someone else).
  • Form COP12: Special undertaking by trustees.
  • Form COP1D (used to give supporting information for an application to appoint or discharge a trustee as part of a Court of Protection order).
  • Form COP24 (to give evidence to the Court of Protection about a person who lacks, or may lack, capacity to safeguard themselves).
  • Another witness statement (COP24) used as a certificate of fitness (e.g. a character reference) in situations where you do not appoint yourself or a solicitor to act on behalf of the owner.

Note: There may be additional fees if the court decides to set up a hearing. Form COP44A explains how to apply for help with Court of Protection (COP) fees.

Contacting the Court of Protection

Court of Protection
PO Box 70185
First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn

Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 0300 456 4600
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
Learn about phone call charges

Important: Even though you can visit the public counter or write to the Court of Protection, the staff are unable to give out legal advice.

Sending Your Application

Send the original application form to the Court of Protection, along with one (1) copy of (all):

Serving an Application

You would get a copy of your application forms from the Court of Protection (stamped with an issue date) around one week after making an application.

Following that, you would need to ‘serve notice’ (tell anyone named in your application) that you are applying. It must happen within fourteen (14) days of the issue date, by sending them (both):

  • Form COP15: Confirmation of proceedings (Court of Protection)
  • Form COP5: Apply to be part of Court of Protection proceedings (‘acknowledgment of service’)

Note: You can tell people about your application by fax, by post to their home address, or in person.

Confirming You Told People

The next step is to fill in the ‘certificates of service’ and send them to the Court of Protection within seven (7) days of serving the documents (to confirm you them):

  • Form COP20A: Certificate of Notification / Non-Notification of the person to whom the proceedings relate.
  • Form COP20B: Certificate of Service / Non-Service Notification / Non-Notification.

Note: You can read further guidance about attending a hearing at the Court of Protection in London or at one of the regional courts. Another section explains how to update property records after appointing someone to act for an owner who lost mental capacity.

Rejected Application (you did not have a hearing)

You can use Form COP9 to ask for a decision to be reconsidered when an application gets rejected and there was no hearing. This service is free of charge but you must apply within twenty one (21) days of the decision.

Rejected Application (you had a hearing)

You can use Form COP35 (appellant’s notice) to appeal the decision when an application is rejected and an oral hearing took place.

Apply within twenty one (21) days of the decision or within the time limit set out by the judge who rejected the application.

Note: You can contact the Court of Protection to make an emergency application (e.g. to stop someone lacking mental capacity from being removed from the property where they are living).

How Joint Property Ownership Works in the United Kingdom