Legal Guides

We use plain and simple English to give you an overview of the most common areas of law.

Joint Tenancy or Tenants in Common – what does this mean?

When purchasing a property with another person(s) in England and Wales, one of the decisions you will have to make is whether you will hold the property as joint tenants or tenants in common; so what does this mean?

Joint Tenants

This is the default choice to register a property.  Holding the property as joint tenants means you own all of the equity in the property jointly; there are no ‘shares’.


If Mark and Jane purchase a property and opt to hold the property as joint tenants,they therefore both own 100% of the property. Upon death of either proprietor, the property automatically passes to the surviving proprietor.

Tenants in Common

This is where you own the property, but in defined shares. Your ‘share’ or equitable interest in the property can be equal or unequal, as agreed between the property owners.  However, the key difference is that your share does not automatically pass onto the other proprietor(s) upon death. Instead, if one proprietor dies, their share will pass in accordance with their Will or in accordance with the intestacy rules if they die without having a Will.


If Mark and Jane hold the property as tenants in common in equal shares (ie, 50% each), upon Jane’s death, her share will pass in accordance with her Will or intestacy. This allows Jane to make decisions on who to pass her share of the legal interest of the property i.e. to her children/grandchildren etc.

If Mark and Jane were purchasing the house, but Mark was paying a higher deposit, it is possible to hold the property as tenants in common but in unequal shares. If Mark and Jane are purchasing a house for £300,000 but Mark is contributing 180,000 and Jane is contributing £120,000, they may wish to hold the property in a share of Mark 60% and Jane 40% to reflect each contribution to the purchase of the property.

If you choose to hold the property in unequal shares, it is important that your decision is recorded in a legal document such as a declaration of trust. This document will set out how each party intends to hold the property and in which shares.

It is essential for your decision that you discuss and consider your own personal circumstances and obtain legal advice on your choices of how to hold title to the property and the best way to protect each of your shares in the property.

Article contributed by Joseph Jordan – & Heidi Vanlangenaeker –

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances, and is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Prettys directly.

Published on 7th April 2022
(Last updated 7th April 2022)

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