How do I add a spouse or partner to my property deeds?

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A 'transfer of equity' is when the current owner of a property or land, adds or removes one or more individuals to the deeds (title) of a property.

You may, for example, wish to transfer equity if you decide to:

  • Sell your share in a property
  • Buy out an ex-partner after a separation
  • Buy out a joint owner
  • Adding a new partner or spouse to the deeds of your home
  • Gift a property (or share in a property) to a child, spouse or civil partner

See also:

Do I need a solicitor to remove someone from property deeds?

Why might I want to put my spouse on the property deeds?

Putting someone 'on the property deeds' means changing the ownership of the property.

When couples get married or enter a civil partnership, it is common to merge financial lives. It maybe that you are soon to be or already married or in a civil partnership. Either way, you may want to share the ownership of your home.

One reason for registering a partner as a joint owner is to protect their interest in the home if you die.

If a spouse or civil partner was to die, the surviving partner would not have to pay Inheritance Tax (IHT).

Partners who are not married or in a civil partnership may have to pay IHT if their partner dies. Adding a partner to the title of the property can ensure that the property passes to the surviving partner and there will be no IHT.

What is the legal (conveyancing) process of transferring equity?

To transfer equity on a property or land, it will be necessary to:

  • Obtain and review a copy of the property's title from HM Land Registry (HMLR)
  • Prepare the transfer deed legal documents
  • Obtain the necessary consents from lenders and landlords (where applicable)
  • Decide on the right form of joint ownership
  • Arrange for all parties to sign and witness the legal documents
  • Register the new owner/s interests with HMLR
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Which type of joint ownership is right for you and your partner?

If you want to add your civil partner or spouse to your property deeds, you will need to think about what type of joint ownership is most suitable. You will also need to consider the implications for your mortgage.

In England and Wales joint owners can be either:

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 the other joint tenant when you die.

Tenants in common

'Tenants in common' can each own equal or different percentage shares in the land or property.

Tenants in common might, for example, collectively decide to adjust the ownership percentage split according to the financial contribution each party will be making.

This percentage ownership each tenant in common has in the property, is known as the 'beneficial interest'.

If one tenant in common dies, their share of the property will not automatically transfer to the other tenant/s in common. Instead, the share would be passed on in accordance with the terms of the will.

Ask your solicitor

There are pros and cons of each type of tenancy. Ask your solicitor to consider your individual circumstances and to advise on the right tenancy options for you and your partner.

Is there a mortgage on the property?

If you have a mortgage on the property you will need the lender's consent before you can add someone else to the property deeds. The new owner will become equally liable for the mortgage repayments once the transfer takes place.

The lender will require a solicitor to carry out the remortgage legal work alongside the transfer of equity process.

Is the property leasehold?

If your property is a leasehold flat or house, you will need to obtain written consent from your freeholder or landlord.

The new owner may be required to execute a Deed of Covenant, fpr which the landlord is likley to charge a fee.

Your conveyancing solicitor will advise you if a Deed of Covenant is required.

Tax

You will need to consider the broader tax implications of adding a partner to the title of your property.

The partner taking on the equity in the property may have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Read more:

Do I pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on a transfer of equity?

Do I pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on a transfer of equity?

Can I do the legal work myself?

If you are transferring equity on a mortgaged home, the lender will require need a solicitor to carry out the legal work needed to complete the transfer.

If there is no mortgage then you don't necessarily need to use a conveyancing solicitor. The transfer of equity process can be complex, however, and there could be tax and legal implications if you make an error.

Transfer of equity legal fees are inexpensive, so most people prefer to use a solicitor.

How can a solicitor help?

Most people find that engaging a conveyancing solicitor makes the process of transferring equity both straightforward and stress-free.

A solicitor will be able to advise on choosing the best tenancy options, compile the correct documentation, communicate with the lender and other related parties, and ensure that both of your interests in the property are correctly registered.

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.

  • Transfer of equity experts
  • No Completion, No Fee Guarantee
  • CQS-accredited panel solicitors
  • Fixed fees - All-inclusive Quote
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Chris Salmon, Director

Author:
Chris Salmon, Director