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Co-Ownership Disputes

What is Co-ownership?

Co-ownership of a property is a more affordable way to own a property as it usually involves the division of responsibility between two parties, this could be family members, couples, or friends. If and when disputes arise amongst the co-owners of a property, the matter can become very complex to solve, this is due to the personal nature of the set-up. 

Co-ownership can be for personal homes, holiday properties, commercial properties from a business perspective and more.

What are my options?

Joint Ownership of a Property

If you are new to property ownership you may or may not be aware that when owning property with one or more people, you must consider how you are to legally jointly own same.

If you are considering purchasing a property with others it is important to ensure that your interests are legally protected. There are two different types of joint ownership that you must consider when purchasing a property with others:

  1. Joint Tenancy

  2. Tenancy in Common

It is important to take time to carefully consider each option and ensure that you choose the option that best protects you and your interests. Making the right decision now can save any difficulties further down the line, including potential litigation in certain circumstances, as well as inheritance tax and estate planning.

We can legally advise you on what is best suited to you and your personal circumstances. However, here is a brief outline of the difference in the two types of joint ownership of property:

Joint Tenancy

Owning property as “Joint Tenants” means no party has a specific share in the property, each party, no matter how many, own the property equally.

Consequently, and probably most importantly, on the death of one of the parties, there is what is known as the ‘survivorship rule’ whereby the deceased’s interest will automatically pass to the surviving owner or owners, regardless of an alternative provision has been written into the deceased person’s Will. Each party is unable to leave property to anyone else so long as the Joint Tenancy is still in existence. It is not until there is only one sole survivor that they can then leave the property to whomever they please.

Additionally, as no party owns a specific share in the property, they are also restricted in selling or disposing of their interest without the consent of the other.

Joint Tenancy is the common option for spouses who would most likely make provision for their spouse or partner in their Will anyway.

It is possible for a Joint Tenancy to be ended by what is known as “severance” to create a Tenancy in Common, however again, the agreement is needed of all joint owners.

Tenancy in Common

Owning property as Tenants in Commons means that each owner holds a specific share in the property (i.e. two joint owners could hold a 50% interest each).  The purchasers/owners should come to an agreement as to what proportion each party owns. The respective shares should then be reflected on the Deed (e.g. equal shares or one-third to one party and two-thirds to the other), and apart from very exceptional circumstances such declaration will be binding.

When property is owned as Tenants in Common, each party can dispose of his or her particular share in the property without the consent of the others, however we would advise that legal advice is taken to avoid any disagreement or potential litigation at a later stage.

On the death of a joint owner, the deceased person’s share will pass according to the terms of his or her Will, if there is one, or following the rules of Intestacy if there is not.  The share will not automatically pass to the other joint owner(s).

This type of joint ownership is more ideal for ascertaining exactly what share everyone has in the property. It also allows each party to make provision for any individual in their Will to inherit the property on their death.

Why seek legal advice for Co-Ownership?

Due to the complex nature of co-ownership of a property it is vital to seek the correct legal advice. Property dispute solicitors will be valuable in cases where co-owners disagree particularly when one co-owner wishes to sell the property while another does not.

Without legal advice these Property Disputes can escalate quickly and your interest in the property may be unprotected, therefore it is vital to seek guidance from Property Dispute Solicitors as they can protect your interest in the property.

In the case of Co-ownership of inherited property, expert legal advice from professional Property Dispute Solicitors is vital to protect your interests and legal rights to that property. Our expert solicitors understand the sensitivity and complexity of this case therefore we will be sure to advise you on your options to achieve the best outcome for you and your property.

How we can help

If you are considering purchasing property with others, it is important that you seek individual legal advice. Our legal team will allow you to make the right choice which reflects your own interests and your own individual circumstances and give you the comfort of being well informed about your assets.

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    Co-ownership was last modified: May 17th, 2022 by Conal McGarrity