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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Types of joint property: types of joint property in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

There are two types of joint ownership (IHTM15011) arrangement. These are

  • ‘joint tenancy’, sometimes referred to as a ‘beneficial’ or ‘true’ joint tenancy
  • ‘tenancy in common’, sometimes also called ‘ownership in undivided shares’

The term ‘tenancy’ for this purpose means ownership.

If owners buy an asset between them equally, the property will be held as joint tenants unless the owners direct otherwise. Joint bank or building society accounts (IHTM15042) are usually held as joint tenants.

Joint tenancy

The main characteristics of a joint tenancy are

  • all the joint owners have identical or equal interests in the property
  • the interest or share of each owner passes on their death by survivorship (IHTM15081) to the remaining owner(s), and if more than one, in equal shares
  • each owner can sever or break up the joint tenancy (for example, by giving notice to the other owners). The owners then hold the joint asset as tenants in common.

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Tenancy in common

Under a tenancy in common arrangement:

  • The owners can (but not always do) have different or unequal interests in the relevant property, for example a quarter for Sally and three quarters for Sam.
  • The interest or share of any owner passes on death under their Will (IHTM12041) or, if there is no Will, under the rules of intestacy (IHTM12101).
  • The share of a tenant in common is usually in proportion to the money they put in to buy the joint property.