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Public Guide 18 – Joint property ownership

Updated: January 2014

Update

This edition of the guide replaces the October 2013 edition. Section 7 has been amended to show a revised address for applications.

Scope of this guide

This guide is aimed at members of the public. It explains the differences between the two kinds of ownership, where you can find out what your kind of ownership is, and how to amend Land Registry’s records if you change your kind of ownership.

1 Introduction

If you own your property jointly, either as a married couple, partners or friends, you will have chosen one of two kinds of ownership.

You will own your property as either:

  • beneficial joint tenants, or

  • tenants in common.

This is the case whether you own the property as freeholders or leaseholders.

2 The two kinds of ownership

Your conveyancer will have assisted you in deciding which kind of ownership suited you when you either bought or were given the property. You can later change between the two kinds of ownership but this is not always easy and sometimes your kind of ownership changes even if you do not want it to.

Land Registry cannot advise you which kind of ownership is best for you.

2.1 Beneficial joint tenancy

Owning your property as beneficial joint tenants means the property belongs to you and the other owner or owners jointly. You must all act together as a single owner, for example on a remortgage or a sale. You do not own specific shares in the property and you cannot give away a share of the property in a will. If you die, your interest in the property passes automatically to the other owner or owners.

A beneficial joint tenancy ends when either:

  • the whole property is transferred to one owner

  • the tenancy is converted into a tenancy in common, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, for example if one of the owners becomes bankrupt

  • the property is sold to someone else, or

  • one owner outlives all the others.

2.2 Tenancy in common

Owning property as tenants in common means the property belongs to you jointly but you also own a specific share of its value. You can give away, sell or mortgage your share. If you die, your share of the property passes to the beneficiary in your will. This type of ownership is reflected by an entry on the register for the property known as a Form A restriction:

Form A restriction: “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.”

The effect of this restriction is that if you are the last survivor of all the owners you must appoint another person to act with you in any deed of sale or mortgage and to jointly receive any sale price or mortgage advance.

A tenancy in common ends when either:

  • you all sell the property (with all the shares) to someone else

  • you all convert to a beneficial joint tenancy, or

  • one owner acquires all the shares in the property.

A tenancy in common does not automatically end when all the original owners have died. It will continue unless one person has become the owner of all the shares or the property is sold. The law makes provision about who can become the registered owner or who can sell the property when this happens. Your conveyancer will advise you.

3 Recording your kind of ownership

3.1 Recording the information

Your kind of ownership may be recorded in the transfer or lease for the property, in a trust deed or in a will. You may find the information in the transfer or lease by which you acquired the property. This is most likely in the case of a beneficial joint tenancy or a simple tenancy in common when, for example, a family home is owned by a husband and wife or registered civil partners.

Where there is a tenancy in common and the arrangements on how the shares are to be divided are more complicated, such as when unrelated people buy a house jointly in unequal shares, you may find the information in a trust deed. The deed will usually define each share carefully and state what can be done with it.

If you were all given the property under a will, the will may set out the kind of ownership, as may the document used to transfer the property to you.

Even if the document by which you acquired the property does not record your kind of ownership, this information may have been included in a Land Registry form when you applied to be registered as joint owners of the property. For example, if you acquired an unregistered property, this information may have been included in your application form FR1 for first registration or if you acquired a registered property by adverse possession, then in your application form ADV1.

Alternatively, if you were registered as joint owners on or after 15 October 2012, you or your conveyancer may have chosen to complete and sign a separate trust information form JO to provide Land Registry with the information about your kind of ownership at the time you applied to be registered.

If there is no record or the record is not what you thought you had agreed, you should ask your conveyancer about your position.

3.2 Finding the written record

Your conveyancer should have provided you with the information on how you own the property when you acquired it. You should look in your own records first.

Land Registry will normally have the original or a copy of the transfer or lease for the property, and of other documents relating to the transfer or lease at the time you acquired the property. A copy can be obtained for a small fee (see Public Guide 1 – A guide to the information we keep and how you can obtain it).

We will not normally have a copy of a separate trust deed.

Probates and wills are available from the Probate Service (www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/infoabout/civil/probate/).

3.3 Land Registry cannot advise you of your kind of ownership

We cannot advise you on which kind of ownership you have chosen. The presence or absence of a Form A restriction on the register for your property does not necessarily signify which kind it is.

3.4 Has your kind of ownership changed?

You must always return to the original record and then check to see if a later event has changed your kind of ownership. This is because:

  • Land Registry may have been given wrong or inadequate information when you were registered as owner, meaning that a Form A restriction may have been wrongly entered or omitted (Land Registry must enter a Form A restriction unless it has been satisfied that that the owners are beneficial joint tenants)

  • a restriction may not yet have been cancelled despite you acquiring all the shares in a tenancy in common or following a failed claim to a share in the property

  • events such as the bankruptcy of an owner who owns the property as a beneficial joint tenant, or a charging order in favour of a creditor of a beneficial joint tenant, may have changed your kind of ownership without you realising it. In such cases the law splits the property automatically into the same number of shares as there were beneficial joint tenants. If there were two joint tenants, they would each have a half share as tenants in common.

4 Changing your kind of ownership

4.1 Changing from a beneficial joint tenancy to a tenancy in common

This is sometimes known as ‘severance of the joint tenancy’ and is normally done by one of the owners serving a notice of severance on the other(s) or by a new or amended trust deed entered into by all the owners. Other methods of severance are possible. Your conveyancer will advise you on whether you should or how you can do this.

If you sever your joint tenancy, you must apply to Land Registry on form SEV (PDF, 60KB) (or form RX1 (PDF, 64.8KB) to enter a Form A restriction in your register. Application can be made by all of you or by one of you. The application form must be signed by the applicant(s) or their conveyancer.

If application is made by all the owners no additional supporting evidence is required.

If application is made by one of you and has not been lodged by a lodged a conveyancer acting for the applicant, the application should be accompanied by either:

  • where severance has occurred as a result of the preparation of a trust deed signed by all the owners, a copy of that deed
  • where severance has occurred as a result of service of notice of severance, either:
    • the original or a certified copy of the notice of severance given by one owner to the other(s) signed by the owner(s) on whom it has been served
    • the original or a certified copy of the notice of severance given by one owner to the other(s) together with a certificate given by the person making the application confirming that the notice was either:
      • given to the other registered proprietors
      • left at their last known place of abode or business in the UK, or
      • sent by registered post or recorded delivery to them at their last known place of abode or business and not returned undelivered.

If application is made by one of you but has been lodged by a conveyancer acting for that applicant, the conveyance should certify that they hold the necessary evidence.

If you are completing form SEV without the help of a conveyancer, the examples set out in Appendix A – Example form SEV application for consensual severance of joint tenancy and Appendix B – Example form SEV application for unilateral severance of joint tenancy will help you. Use the ‘consensual’ example where all the owners are applying and the ‘unilateral’ example where only one of you is applying. Send the completed and dated form to Land Registry (see section 7 Contacting Land Registry). No fee or covering letter is required.

Form JO cannot be used to change ownership. Its use is restricted to providing details of how you intend to jointly own the property at the time of acquisition.

4.2 Changing from a tenancy in common to a beneficial joint tenancy

This is normally done by a new (or amended) trust deed entered into by all the owners. Your conveyancer will advise you.

You need to involve Land Registry only if there is already a Form A restriction on your register (which there should be). To cancel the restriction, you must apply on form RX3, which must be signed either:

  • by all of you, or

  • a conveyancer on behalf of all of you or one of you on behalf of all of you.

The completed form must be supported by either:

  • a certified copy of the new (or amended) trust deed showing that everyone with a share or interest in the property agrees to the change, or

  • a certified copy of the transfer showing that all the owners of shares transfer their shares to all the beneficial joint tenants, or

  • a certificate given by a conveyancer that a deed in one of the forms referred to above has been entered into by all the parties.

The supporting evidence must confirm that:

  • together all of you own all of the shares in the property and no one else owns any other share in the property
  • none of you have burdened their individual shares. Examples of how a share in the property may be encumbered include:
    • a mortgage of one person’s share in the property
    • one of the joint owners being made bankrupt
    • where a creditor has obtained a charging order against the share of one of the owners
  • you all now hold the property as beneficial joint tenants.

If the application is supported by a certified copy of the trust deed or transfer it may be necessary to provide additional evidence to confirm these points. The evidence that we usually accept is a statutory declaration or statement of truth by the registered proprietors. We will accept a certificate by a conveyancer acting for the registered proprietors in place of the declaration or statement if they can speak from their knowledge of the facts.

If you are completing form RX3 without the help of a conveyancer, the example set out in Appendix C – Example of a completed form RX3 will help you. Send the completed and dated form to Land Registry (see section 7 Contacting Land Registry). No fee or covering letter is required.

Form JO cannot be used to change ownership. Its use is restricted to providing details of how you intend to jointly own the property at the time of acquisition.

5 Cancelling the Form A restriction in other circumstances

5.1 When the number of owners is reduced to one

In this circumstance form RX3 (PDF, 57.9KB) must be used to cancel the Form A restriction. The form must be signed by you or by a conveyancer acting on your behalf. It must be accompanied by evidence to show that you have become the sole beneficial owner.

Land Registry will accept a statutory declaration or statement of truth (see Practice Guide 73 – Statements of truth) by the owner or a certificate from the conveyancer acting for the owner provided the conveyancer has personal knowledge of the facts which:

  • explains how you became entitled to the whole of the property
  • confirms that no one else owns or has any interest in any share of the property
  • confirms that neither your share in the property nor the share of any previous owners has been burdened (see section 4.2 Changing from a tenancy in common to a beneficial joint tenancy for examples of how a share in a property may be burdened).

5.2 When a single surviving owner sells the property

If you are the last surviving owner of a property where you owned as tenants in common, a prospective purchaser’s conveyancer will require either evidence of the kind mentioned in section 5.1 When the number of owners is reduced to one to allow the Form A restriction to be cancelled or will require you to appoint another person to jointly receive the sale price. Your conveyancer will advise you.

6 Correcting the register

If you believe the register for your property wrongly contains or omits a Form A restriction, you should contact Customer Support for guidance (see Contact details).

7 Contacting Land Registry

Send your application to:

Citizen Centre
Land Registry Wales Office
Tŷ Cwm Tawe
Phoenix Way
Llansamlet
Swansea
SA7 9FQ

Appendix A

Download example form SEV - Application for consensual severance of joint tenancy – all registered owners applying (PDF, 60KB)
No conveyancer acting. Please read the side notes carefully when completing the form.

Appendix B

Download example form SEV - Application for unilateral severance of joint tenancy – one registered owner applying (PDF, 59.4KB)
No conveyancer acting. Please read the side notes carefully when completing the form.

Appendix C

Download example form RX3 - Application to cancel a restriction (PDF, 57.9KB)
No conveyancer acting. Please read the side notes carefully when completing the form.

Appendix D

Download example of form JO - Where the joint owners complete and sign panel 5 of the form (PDF, 54.3KB)

Appendix E

Download example of form JO - Where the joint owner’s conveyancer completes and signs panel 6 of the form (PDF, 55.3KB)


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