There has been a lot of press coverage recently about the rights that couples have when it comes to marriage and civil partnerships. A recent court case heard a couple arguing that they should be allowed to enter in to a civil partnership, even as a heterosexual couple. How do the various relationship statuses impact on the rights and agreements that can be put in place when buying a house? In most cases, two people buying a house together have two routes they can explore.
The most typical arrangements for joint house ownership are either joint tenants or tenants in common. If two people own a house as joint tenants then both parties have an equal share. If one of the parties were to die, the other party would automatically obtain the deceased partner’s share of the house. It’s a common arrangement for married couples. The other typical arrangement is tenants in common. A tenant in common agreement usually provides a 50/50 split of home ownership between both parties. However, the arrangement can be weighted more heavily towards one party or another. The primary difference between joint tenants and tenants in common is that if one party were to die, then in a tenants in common arrangement the other party would not automatically receive the other half of the house from the deceased. Instead, whoever is stated as a beneficiary in a Will would be entitled to that share of the property. Which is another reason why putting a Will in place is a really important step to take.
What about unmarried couples?
For unmarried couples, friends and partners, or where there is an unequal contribution to the cost of the house, it is advised that a tenants in common arrangement is in place. Additionally, if one of the parties has children from previous relationships and they intend for those children to be beneficiaries in a Will, a tenants in common arrangement is advised. Otherwise, a joint tenancy is advisable. It should be noted that even in a joint tenants arrangement that one of the parties may use a process called Notice of Severance to move a joint tenancy arrangement in to a tenants in common arrangement.
It’s important that you consider the implications of both types of tenancy agreement. We can help advise you of solicitors to work with when going through your house buying process. And we offer a Will service to all new and existing customers. Call through to our team to discuss the house buying process or Wills on 01604 877999.