Do I need a solicitor to add a spouse or partner to the property deeds?

Adding a partner to the deeds of a property whilst still retaining a share yourself is known as a ‘transfer of equity’. Many people choose to share the ownership of their home after getting married or entering into a civil partnership.

Can I do it myself?

A transfer of equity can be a relatively simple process, which does not necessarily require any assistance from a solicitor.

However, the process can get complicated, so most people complete the process through a conveyancing solicitor. The solicitor will advise on the options for joint ownership, complete the HM Land Registry paperwork and handle any Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if applicable.

If there is an existing mortgage, the lender will require the transfer of equity to be carried out by a solicitor.

Which type of joint ownership is right for you and your partner?

If you want to add your partner or spouse to your property deeds, you will need to think about what type of joint ownership is right for you both, as well as considering the implications for your mortgage.

In England and Wales, couples can be either Joint Tenants of a property or Tenants in Common.

Joint tenants

Joint tenants each hold an equal share of 50% of the property, and when one person dies, then the sole property ownership automatically goes to the other joint tenant under the 'Right of Survivorship'. As a joint tenant, you cannot pass on your half of the property to anyone else but your partner when you die.

Tenants in common

Tenants in common, however, can own different percentage shares in the property, though they can also hold a 50% share each. The percentage split might depend on the financial contribution each person has made. This percentage ownership each person has in the property is known as the 'beneficial interest'.

With tenants in common, if one partner dies, their share of the property does not automatically go to the other tenant in common. Instead, the share in the property would be passed on according to the terms of the will.

A conveyancing solicitor will be able to help you decide on the right tenancy options for you and your partner.

How to add another person to your property deeds

To add a name to your property deeds, your conveyancing solicitor will need to obtain a copy of the property title through HM Land Registry. Once obtained, they will prepare a 'Transfer Deed' which must then be signed by all joint owners and in the presence of a witness.

Contacting your mortgage lender

If you have an outstanding mortgage on your property then you will need consent from your lender before you can add someone else to the property deeds, as the new owner will become equally liable for the mortgage repayments once the transfer takes place.

In this case, your conveyancing solicitor will be able to help you complete the remortgage in joint names as well as handling the transfer of equity. You will need to comply with any requirements set out by the lender as part of the transfer.

It is important to note that there are other financial considerations that need to be made when adding a partner to your property deeds. The partner taking on the equity in the property may have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) or Capital Gains Tax on the transaction. If you’re taking on equity and a mortgage with a value of £125,000 or more, you will be required to pay SDLT on any equity over this threshold.

Property tenure

If your property is a leasehold, then you may need to obtain written consent from your freeholder or managing agent before the transfer of equity can be carried out The new owner may be required to execute a Deed of Covenant, which will incur an additional fee.

Again, your conveyancing solicitor will be able to advise you if a Deed of Covenant is necessary when they review the title to the property.

Get professional help

Most people find that engaging a conveyancing solicitor makes the process of transferring equity simpler and more straightforward. A solicitor will be able to advise about tenancy options, compile the correct documentation and communicate with the lender. With the assistance of a solicitor, the process of adding a name to the property deeds should usually take around four to six weeks.

Your next step

Whether you are gifting a property to a child, getting married or separating, or transferring equity for any other reason, we can help you find an expert conveyancing solicitor. Even if you are just looking for advice, we can help.

If you are also planning to remortgage as part of the transfer process, the remortgage legal work can be completed at the same time as your transfer of equity.

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Chris Salmon, Director

Author:
Chris Salmon, Director