Deed of trust is key to buying with a partner

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty explains how co-owners of a property can protect their individual investments by buying as 'tenants in common'
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Question: My partner and I are buying our first house together. There will be no mortgage. I am paying 80 per cent of the purchase price and my partner is paying 20 per cent. We want the house in our joint names. How can I protect my investment?

Answer: You should buy the property as tenants in common and you should make a will. Co-owners who are not civil partners and are not married usually hold as tenants in common.

Where the shares are unequal, they must hold in this way. There should be a separate deed of trust setting out the shares in the property and each co-owner will be able to dispose of their interest or share during their lifetime (unless the declaration prohibits that).

On death, the individual share will pass into the estate of the deceased, requiring a grant of probate and a separate conveyancing document to transfer the share to the person entitled under the will, or, where there is no will, to whoever is entitled under the intestacy rules.

To protect your 80 per cent investment, there should be a restriction entered at the Land Registry and a declaration setting out the share which you will receive if the property is sold. The declaration should be reviewed from time to time and be amended if one of you pays for significant work on the property, or pays off all or part of the capital on any mortgage.

If you later marry or become civil partners the declaration has less importance, as all assets are then available to be divided as the court considers fair and reasonable.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP

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