Why does it matter?
If you own a property with someone else, then you can own it one of two ways:
Beneficial Joint Tenants
If you own your home as beneficial joint tenants, it's a bit like having a joint bank account - you both own all of it. If one of you were to die it's irrelevant what is included in your Will, the survivor automatically takes ownership of the whole property. There's nothing wrong with this, but it means that if you want to protect your half of your home using a trust or if you want your half of your home to go to someone other than the person you own it with - then this way of owning a property is going to prevent you from doing so.
Tenants in Common
Owning your home as tenants in common, means that you each own a divisible share of the property. You are then free to leave your share of the property to whoever you want in your Will. It gives you greater flexibility in protecting your estate and allows you to include a life interest or property trust in your Will.
How do I own my home?
To find out how you own your home, you first need a copy of the Title Register from the Land Registry. You will probably have a copy of it in the pack of paperwork that you received from your conveyancer when you purchased your property. If you can't find that, then you can download it. You can search for property information from the Land Registry here and follow the instructions to download a copy of the Title Register. It costs £3 and only takes a few minutes. Alternatively, watch my video below which takes you through the whole process.
What am I looking for on the Title Register?
Once you've got a copy of the Title register, determining how you own your property is very simple. You need to find 'Section B: Proprietorship Register' within the document - it's usually on the second page.
In the section you may find a restriction that reads:
No disposition by a sole proprietor of the registered estate (except a trust corporation) under which capital money arises is to be registered unless authorised by an order of the court.
If this is included in your title register, then you own your property as Tenants in Common.
If this is not included in your title register, then you own your property as Joint Tenants.
See the document examples below (opens in new window) - it's point three in Section B.
How do I change from Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common?
If, after taking advice, you decide that you want to change the way that you own your home from Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common, then you need to do two things:
- Complete an application to enter Form A restriction on an SEV form - this is then sent to Land Registry.
- Create and sign a deed of severance which confirms that you with to own the property as Tenants in Common.
I would recommend that you take professional advice before either of the above steps.
It's important to point out that Land Registry do not currently charge anything to enter this restriction and change how you own your property. If you are paying someone to carry out this work for you, you should be wary of anyone whose charges are based on the value of your home - as this has no bearing on the cost of undertaking the work.
When you make a Will with MR Wills, if we need to change how you own your property, then this is included in the fixed fee for writing the Will.