The benefits of joint property owners declaring the extent of their interests in their property at the time of purchase have been highlighted by the publication of a joint practice note by the Law Society and Land Registry.
Following the widely reported decisions of the High Court in Stack v Dowden  UKHL17 and the Supreme Court in Jones v Kernott  UKSC, which highlighted the uncertainty regarding the position of joint owners who have not made an express declaration of their interests in their property, the practice note suggests that all joint purchasers consider at the outset of the transaction whether to make an express declaration of trust, in a bid to avoid the types of disputes that not infrequently can arise between unmarried cohabitees, family, friends and business partners, and sometimes between married couples who buy property together.
Whilst not suitable in all cases, the voluntary Land Registry JO form can be used as a simple way for joint owners to declare their interests, or provide details of any existing declaration of trust, at the time when they acquire the property.
In some cases, for example where a third party, such as a relative or family trust, has contributed to the purchase price or where owners wish not only to define their contributions to the purchase costs but also their obligations relating to the outgoings of the property and/or contributions to subsequent improvements, a more detailed declaration of trust may be appropriate.
Our Residential Property team will be happy to advise on the preparation of such a declaration of trust or any related issues.