Many unmarried couples, and many married couples, jointly own property. If you partner passes away or you and your partner divorce or separate you may wish to become the sole owner of a property. Sometimes this is simple but sometimes it is difficult and a legal battle ensues. If you are a co-owner of a property you cannot sell the property or part of the property without getting consent from the other co-owner or co-owners.
There are two types of joint ownership – beneficial joint tenancy and tenancy in common. If you own your property as beneficial joint tenants all the decisions regarding the property, e.g. sale, must be made by all co-owners. The property will automatically be left to the surviving co-owner or co-owners if one of the owners passes away. In contrast, when you own property as tenants in common you have the right to sell your share in the property and leave your share in the property to an individual of your choosing as outlined in your Will.
If you are seeking sole ownership of a property you should contact a solicitor. Whether the agreement is simple or a legal battle it is important you have a solicitor involved so all the paperwork is done to the correct standard. The only situation in which you may not need to contact a solicitor is if there is one co-owner in a joint tenancy and they pass away. In this case the property will automatically be transferred into your sole ownership. You must, however, remember to send a copy of the co-owner’s death certificate to the Land Registry as they will need to update the documentation linked to the house so it is now solely your name on the title deeds. If you feel confident doing this alone you can do this without instructing a property lawyer. If you are confused in any way about how to correctly transfer a property into your name you should consult a specialist property lawyer.
In the case that you divorce your partner you will need to come to an agreement about the property. You may be able to do this amiably, or you may not, depending on the circumstances in which your relationship has broken down. The most common way to deal with gaining sole ownership of a property following a divorce is to sell your share of the property to your partner or buy your partner out of the property. Alternatively many couples agree to jointly sell the property, split the profits and go their own separate ways.
It is advisable you deal with the legalities of your mutual property rapidly, so you do not have to continue having any responsibility for the property in the eyes of the law if you no longer want it and you can bring all aspects of your separation to a mutually accepted conclusion. Contact a specialist property solicitor today if you need any legal advice regarding property ownership and property rights.
Roskell Davies property team can help with all of your property law queries. For a free initial enquiry call us on 0800 142 2901 or fill in an online enquiry to see what we can do for you.