Joint Ownership & Declarations of Trust

Joint Ownership & Declarations of Trust

Buying a property is one of the major life events that you’ll remember forever. Not only is it a huge step, but it’s a massive financial responsibility that you’re taking on, especially when you own it with someone else. It’s also one of the main reasons why so many people contact Ruth Hayward at MHHP Law to help.

Whether the co-ownership is out of investment or a relationship, you need to be sure that you’re protected. We understand it may not be the most romantic conversation, however it is essential that you protect yourself. It’s always best to consider the worst-case scenario early on, instead of being taken by surprise.

A declaration of trust is one way to remove ambiguity from joint ownership of a property.

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What is a declaration of trust?

Similar to other contracts, this is a legal document that explicitly states intentions and facts regarding a property and its ownership. These leave little room for interpretation, evidencing an agreement made and establishing the ‘beneficial interests’.

By establishing this at the start of the joint ownership, you can avoid confusion or disputes in the future. Whereas some ownerships are fairly straightforward (like for ‘joint tenants’ where they equally own 100%), this can be helpful to define more complex agreements. This may include unequal shares of a home or if there are specific instructions for how a sale will be played out. This needs to be clarified with the HM Land Registry.

What types of joint ownerships are there?

Tenants in common

This is when the rights to the property are split between two or more people. The split does not need to be entirely even, meaning there can be one person with a high majority and then several people with small amounts of ownership. In more complex situations like this, a declaration of trust is essential.

Joint tenants

This is when both own 100% of the property, instead of being split 50/50 between them or more parties. This means that if someone dies, the other would retain sole ownership of 100% of the property instead of it being passed on to other representatives.

Can a declaration of trust be overturned or challenged?

These are all about removing ambiguity, so they’re meant to be watertight with little room to budge. However, there are ways to tweak and change the agreement.

Has the property of your value recently increased or decreased dramatically? Potentially you’ve had an extension built, or structural damage has diminished the value. Maybe someone wants to officially remove or add their name to the rights of the property. In these cases, you can make changes to the deed by adding additional clauses to the original deed.

However, when a larger overhaul is needed, simply adding on amendments won’t suffice and you may need to completely rewrite the deed. Whether you are changing a small element or rewriting the entire declaration, all parties involved must agree and consent to the new document.


Why people trust MHHP Law with their property matters

Our team of solicitors and partners have decades of experience between them, meaning they’ve seen almost any type of legal issue you may have to show them. On top of that, they’re friendly and always happy to help whether you come into the office or contact them via phone or email directly.

Fill in the contact form below or contact Ruth Hayward for more information.

Your initial, informative half-hour consultation is only £60 plus VAT. Find the answers you have been looking for, today!