Declaration of Ownership
Cohabiting and buying a house as a couple
There may be various reasons why co-owners choose to separate their shares in their property.
This may be for the simple reason that one co-owner is putting in more money than the other to the purchase of the property and wants to ensure that they receive those funds back in the event of a sale.
Alternatively, one party may be paying more towards the mortgage and the bills as ongoing costs and therefore they may wish to state that they own a greater share of the property than the other party.
The relationship between the co-owners will often dictate how the equity is divided. For example, friends or business partners will likely want to specify their shares in the property so that they can ensure this is left to their own family members in the event of their death.
In order to document these shares, co-owners should enter into a Declaration of Ownership.
What is a Declaration of Ownership?
A Declaration of Ownership is a contract between co-owners that clearly sets out the parties’ intentions at the time of the purchase.
If a dispute ever arose in the future the Court would use the Declaration of Ownership as a starting point and there would need to be strong evidence to show that the position outlined had since been varied.
How long does a Declaration of Ownership take?
We can provide a draft of your document within 7 days of receiving your instructions and receiving payment, although this can often be sooner. If you have any specific timescales you need to work towards, please let us know.
Can our Declaration of Ownership be done when we are buying our house?
Yes, this is the best time. Your conveyancer will send you a ‘Joint Ownership Form’ which provides a reference to how you would like the property to be owned. You have two options, Tenants in Common or Joint Tenants.
By selecting a Tenants in Common you can choose to own different percentages (shares) of the property. For example, 40/50. In this scenario, the property does not automatically go to the other owner or owners if you die, but to the person named in your will.
Whereas Joint Tenants have equal shares, owning 50% of the property each. In addition, your 50% share will automatically go to the other owner in the event of your death.
Co-habiting and the importance of writing a Will?
When you buy a property with another party it is important at the outset to think about how you would want the equity in the property to be split between you.
Not only will this have an effect on how your ownership will need to be registered, but this can also avoid difficult conversations and costly litigation later down the line.
If you do not want to own the equity in the property equally, or you wish to leave your equity to someone other than your co-owner when you die, then you must hold the property as tenants in common.
By holding the property as tenants in common you can each specify your share in the equity and on your death, this will pass in accordance with the terms of your Will. It is therefore vital to also ensure that your Will is up to date.
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