Partners buying a house

I am buying a house with my boyfriend. My solicitor has asked us if we want to be joint tenants or tenants in common. What does this mean?

I am buying a house with my boyfriend. My solicitor has asked us if we want to be joint tenants or tenants in common. What does this mean?

You need to consider what kind of joint ownership you will have. There are two types and the difference is important - it affects the shares you each have in the house and what happens if one of you dies. As joint tenants, you will have equal shares in the house and if one of you dies the survivor will automatically own the whole property. As tenants-in-common, the house will be owned in the shares that you select (for example 50pc each, but any division is possible). If one of you dies, the survivor will not automatically inherit the share of the deceased. It will pass under the will of the first to die or, if there isn't one, the intestacy rules. If you are tenants-in-common, you must stipulate your shares and make wills.

t I am contributing more to the purchase price. How can I ensure that I will get my contribution back when we sell the house?

You'll need to be tenants-in-common. Your solicitor can prepare a trust deed which will provide for you to get back your contribution before the rest of the net proceeds are divided between you.

t If we split up will we have to sell the house?

Again, you can ask your solicitor to draw up a trust deed saying what is to happen. You could each have the option to buy out the other's share. In the absence of an agreement, the court could order a sale.

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t My boyfriend has a child from a previous relationship, will this make a difference?

He may wish to leave some of his share on his death in the house to his child so you will need to be tenants-in-common. Your solicitor will be able to advise on this so that you can continue living in the property.

What are the tax implications of being joint tenants or tenants-in-common?

Inheritance tax may be affected. You should discuss this with your solicitor.

t What if we change our minds about the way we own the house?

If you are joint tenants, either of you can end the joint tenancy by giving the other notice. If you are tenants-in-common you could become joint tenants by signing a deed to that effect.