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Understanding Tenancy: Tenants in Common Vs. Joint Tenancy

It's becoming a lot more common for couples to choose to own their homes as tenants in common, ra...

It’s becoming a lot more common for couples to choose to own their homes as tenants in common, rather than owning it as joint tenants. The reason behind this is so that the right people (mostly children) are the people who benefit in the long run.

So what is the difference?

Generally, when a couple own a house together, they both own it as ‘joint tenants.’ This means that the whole house belongs to them as a couple. If one partner dies, the other person will automatically become the sole owner of the property. This is regardless to anything that may have been left in their will.

When talking about ‘tenants in common,’ we’re referring to a completely different situation. This is when each person has a definite share in the property – they each own their own specific share. This share doesn’t have to be equal; it can be any percentage of ownership. In this situation, if someone was to die, they can pass their ownership onto their loved ones. It doesn’t automatically get left to the person who owns the other half/share.

Which Option Should You Choose?

Choosing between tenants in common or joint tenancy is something that completely comes down to individual preference and circumstances. A lot of married couples prefer joint tenancy, as they like the security of knowing that their share will automatically be left to their spouse if something was to happen.

A lot of unmarried couples (although some married couples are also choosing this option too) are deciding that tenants in common is a more viable option for them. This is because if anything was to happen within the relationship, they don’t need permission from the other person to sell their share. For this reason alone, it’s also the more attractive option for friends and family members too. You can leave your share to someone other than the other owner.

What are Other Advantages to Choosing the Tenants in Common Option?

Tenants in common has several other distinct advantages. The main one is concerning the subject of debts. If your partner has significant debts when they pass away, this will be taken out of the house before their assets are shared according to their will. With a joint tenancy, your partners share is automatically yours if they were to pass away. If the debts are large, an “Insolvency Administration Order” could be placed, forcing the sale of your home.

If you are simply tenants in common, the situation becomes a lot easier. The aim will be to pay off their debts from their share of the property. However, it’s worth noting that if they ARE significant debts, it could still result in the sale of your home.


If you would like to learn more about the difference between the different tenancy options, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can give us a call on 0121 321 3388 and we will be happy to help.

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