Joint Ownership FAQs

Joint ownership is simply where more than one person has a legal interest in property or land in the UK. Significantly, that joint ownership can take (in its simplest form) one of two types – joint tenants or tenants in common.

Joint ownership of property and land in the UK can be either as joint tenants or tenants in common. 

A joint tenancy is where the joint owners (known as joint tenants) own the whole piece of land together and jointly and in equal shares (dependant upon however many of them there are).  If any one of the owners dies, their share passes automatically by law in equal proportions to the surviving owner(s).  This legal process is called ‘the right of survivorship’ and it overrides all other legal entities including a will. 

A tenancy in common is where the joint owners (known as tenants in common) of property or land in the UK own distinct separate shares.  Those shares can be of any proportion as defined by the owners.  If one of the owners dies, their share will pass via their will (unlike with a tenancy in common). 

The main difference between tenants in common and joint tenants is that joint tenants will always be equal shares, and those shares pass automatically on the death of any one or more of the owners to the survivors.  That happens irrespective of the terms of any will.  That principle is called ‘the right of survivorship’. 

The right of survivorship is the legal principle whereby property and land under a joint tenancy passes automatically to the surviving joint owners on the death of any one of them.  This overrides for example the terms of a will that may even purport to gift the land to someone other than the remaining joint owners.  This is unlike a tenancy in common whereby the distinct separate shares pass via a will or intestacy. 

Because ‘the right of survivorship’ does not apply to tenants in common, you MUST make a will to ensure your share in the property or land goes to the person intended on your death.  If you fail to make a will, the rules of intestacy will apply.  These are the legal rules that decide who gets what on our death if we die without a will (intestate).  In short, that list is a hierarchy of relatives starting with our spouse, then children, and so on. 

A tenant in common is the person or persons who own the land. A tenancy in common is the legal principle by which that land is held (as opposed to the person(s) concerned). 

A joint tenant is the person, whereas a joint tenancy is the legal principle of joint ownership itself. 

No!  Misleading as the phrase may be, a joint tenancy is about the legal ownership of land – not renting property! 

No!  A tenancy in common is a type of joint legal ownership of land in the UK and nothing to do with renting houses! 

Which you choose will probably be decided by who you want to get your share of the property in question when you die.  So, for example, if you are married or own jointly with your partner you may well plump for a joint tenancy as this will ensure that your surviving spouse/partner gets the house come what may.  NB you should always still make a will to deal with any other assets! 

This is the part of the Land Registry records that show you own as tenants in common.  It appears as what is known as a ‘restriction’ in the ‘Proprietorship Register’ The law being the law, the restriction does not even mention the words tenants in common!  If there is no restriction, it is assumed that the joint ownership is a joint tenancy. 

No is the simple answer!  All a tenancy in common does is define that the joint owners hold the property or land separately in shares defined by them.  The more (brief) complex answer is that holding as tenants in common does allow you to then undertake care home fees planning by potentially gifting (for example) a share of the matrimonial home into a trust on the first death of a married couple.  This is a hugely complex area and you should take independent legal advice should you wish to explore this topic. 

No is the simple answer.  All that a tenancy in common does is define how the joint owners own the house or land – ie in separate shares, the size of which they will have defined.  However, the brief further answer is that if you do own as tenants in common then you can, for example, gift a share of land on the first death of a couple to someone other than the survivor.  Whilst a grossly oversimplified example of the reality of tax planning, this points to a broad topic under which inheritance tax savings can sometimes be made.  Tax planning is an extremely complex area, and the gifting a property is in any event a significant step.  You should therefore seek independent legal advice should you be contemplating this course of action. 

If you own a property jointly with someone other than your children but wish to leave it to them, you must ensure that you own the property with your joint owner as tenants in common. 

Yes. If you currently hold as joint tenants but for some reason wish to change that joint ownership to a tenancy in common then this is a relatively simple process for your solicitor to deal with for you. 

Yes.  If you currently jointly own a property as tenants in common then you can change this to a tenancy in common by placing a ‘restriction’ at the Land Registry.  This is a simple process that your conveyancing solicitor can deal with for you. 

First time buyers should apply the same rules when thinking about which type of joint ownership they want to have.  If they want their share to pass automatically to their other joint owner(s) then a joint tenancy is likely to be for them.  If they want to gift their share to someone other than their joint owner, then a tenancy in common is likely to be the right choice.  If in any doubt which type of joint ownership is right for you, discuss your options with your conveyancing solicitor. 

Yes, you can leave jointly owned land into a trust in the UK. If you wish to do so on your death, then you must ensure that that property or land is held as tenants in common.  If you hold as joint tenants, it will automatically pass to the surviving owners on your death and this will override the terms of any will purporting to place it in trust. 

What is Joint Ownership?

Buying houses and land will for the majority of us be the most significant financial investment we will make during our lifetime. And, for many of us, we will buy that house or land jointly with one or more other people. The law relating to joint ownership in the UK is very specific, and in particular you can hold property and land with other joint owners in one of two ways – either as (a) joint tenants, or (b) as tenants in common.

What you say about our Solicitors!

Check out other solicitors’ websites and they’ll be littered with self-adulation – they’re “leading solicitor” this, and “solicitors doing” that. Rather than toot our own horn we’d rather you be the judge of how good our solicitors are. Trustpilot is a totally independent review site where our clients are free to leave whatever thoughts they feel best describe the legal service they received from us. It’s raw. It’s honest. It’s for real. And critically, it’s from you!

Read Reviews







on Title

Exchange of



First Time



Why Us?


We’ve redefined ‘local solicitor’


From the comfort of your own home


Access to your case files anytime


View our eco credentials


View our fees


See our evolution


Whether a ‘solicitor near to me’ is your thing, or you are using an online solicitor, you want to be able to talk to your solicitor – how and when you want! Whichever of our expert solicitors you need to talk to, we’ve made it as easy as we can to be available to you.  So whether you need to speak to your conveyancing solicitor, or your divorce solicitor, your employment law solicitor, or your wills and probate solicitor – get in touch with Qlaw today!

Enter your details…