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What is sole ownership?

This content applies to England & Wales

A definition of sole ownership.

Definition

Sole ownership means that one person only is the legal owner of the property, even though other people may be living there or may have contributed to the purchase price. In this section, 'non-owning cohabitant' is used for the cohabiting partner who is not the owner of the family home.

Ownership title

Historically, the legal owner of the property is shown on the title deeds, but this is now only true of 'unregistered land'. If this is the case, the title deeds will normally be held by the lender (if there is a loan on the property), by the solicitor involved in the conveyance, or by the owner her/himself. Most residential property is now registered, and information about ownership is included in the proprietorship register held at the Land Registry. A copy of this can be obtained from the Land Registry for a small fee.

Freehold and leasehold properties

Ownership of a property may be freehold or leasehold. Freehold ownership is unlimited in time, while leasehold properties are let on a long lease that is for a fixed term. For more information about home ownership, see the other parts of the Home ownership section.

This section applies equally to freehold and leasehold property, but it does not apply to short-term leases or tenancies, for example for one or two years, or weekly or monthly, which are discussed in the section on Married/civil partners: sole tenant and the section on Cohabiting couples - sole tenants.

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