Solicitors should encourage joint property purchasers to put in writing how ownership is apportioned between them to avoid disputes where relationships break down, the Law Society and Land Registry have warned.
The two bodies have published a joint practice note in relation to joint property ownership, encouraging solicitors to advise their clients whether to make an express declaration of trust, using the Land Registry form JO.
Most disputes arise between unmarried cohabitees, but they can also arise between family members, friends or business partners who buy property together.
The practice note follows recent court decisions, Stack v Dowden  UKHL 17 and Jones v Kernott  UKSC 53, which have highlighted the need for joint home buyers to properly define and record their respective interests in the property.
The new voluntary Land Registry JO form was introduced as an alternative means for joint owners to declare their interests, or to provide details of an existing separate declaration of trust, at the time when they acquire the property.
Chairman of the Law Society’s conveyancing and land law committee Jonathan Smithers said: ‘I am pleased that the Law Society and Land Registry have worked together to provide detailed and up to date advice to solicitors practising in what is a complicated area of the law.
‘The note will direct solicitors to the practical implications of statements made in recent cases so that their clients can continue to receive the best advice possible.’
Director of legal services at Land Registry Alasdair Lewis said: ‘Pooling our expertise with the Law Society in this way, means solicitors and conveyancers will receive comprehensive guidance about transactions involving this complex area of the law.
‘In addition to the joint practice note, we have recently introduced a new voluntary form as an alternative means for joint owners to declare their interests, or to provide details of an existing separate declaration of trust, at the time when they acquire the property.’
The practice note can be read on the Law Society website.