Owning property includes loads of regulations and technicalities. In the case of jointly owned properties, this is even more obvious as one owner may want to sell that property, but others might not agree. Such cases can get quite complicated, so there are various laws in Pakistan governing the ownership and transfer of joint property. There are multiple mechanisms in place, and you must be aware of if you are venturing into purchasing a property with co-buyers or want to sell your share of joint property.
Firstly, when various people are purchasing property together, a co-ownership agreement must be drafted and should be signed by all participants in the presence of an unbiased referee. This should cover the matters related to the ownership, management, and distribution of the property. The price of the joint property, the date of the agreement signed, and the responsibilities of the co-owners should plainly be stated in the agreement so that there will be a definite legal cover for any future conflict or misunderstandings.
Selling and transferring shared property have a lot more procedures than property owned by an individual. If one proprietor wants to sell the property, he or she cannot, in any way, sell the entire property unless the owners of the rest are also involved in the transaction. In Pakistan, under section 44 of the Property Act 1882, a co-owner can only sell the joint property to the degree of his or her own share. Though, if a share in a common dwelling is being sold, the purchaser will not be able to use that property for his or her personal use. Though, this falls to the disadvantage of both the buyer and the seller. As the joint property is generally used as shared dwellings by joint families, this is a common dilemma with the transfer of jointly owned property in Pakistan.
Who will Own What?
From the beginning, ensure that you have decided with your co-owner how the property will be owned and usually 50:50 is the assumption. Still, anything is acceptable as long as both parties agree to this. It might be that one will have a larger share because they are paying a more significant portion of the deposit and will be making more substantial financial contributions to other expenses like the home insurance, mortgage, and repairs.
For instance, if there is no written or printed agreement between the co-owners as to what percentage split they will hold, then litigation is likely to happen between the co-owners. If you consider yourself unfortunate enough to find yourself in this position, then often the party who can show evidence of their participation in the expenses will put themselves in the best position to increase their stake in the property. If you are not very good at record-keeping, or simply pay a lump sum to the other co-owner, then obviously you should assure that the ownership percentage is accurately recorded.
Purpose of the Purchase?
Will you be purchasing with a view to living in the property together, or will it be an investment to be rented out?
Again this must be agreed from the start. If things go south, then one factor which a court will consider when determining the appropriate remedy is what the purpose of the purchase was for.
How is this Reflected?
If you have selected the division of ownership, then you need to guarantee that the property is legally kept in a way to reflect the agreement. The first and foremost thing is always to assure that all the actual owners are registered on the property as the legal owners. If this is not possible for whatsoever reason, then you must at least have a legal document to protect yourself in the situation of a dispute.
You can co-own a property in two ways: as a tenant in common or a joint tenant. Joint tenancy is the pattern if you want to own in equal divisions. If the property is held as a joint tenant, then something called ‘survivorship’ implements. This indicates that your share will automatically pass to the surviving co-owner(s).
When you pass away, and you are tenants in common, your share will pass onto whomever you have left it to in your will. The law will always assume that shares are owned in equal proportions where there is more than one person on the legal title. Most of the time, that is fine as it reflects what people agree to and want. If you wish to division separately, then you need to declare this in a Declaration of Trust. A Declaration of Trust is a fantastic tool as it can set out who put what in, and who gets what out at the end, and they do not have to correlate. It will reflect what parties agree and intend at the time and will be vital when things go awry.
Get Proper Advice
You will need to get the best advice from the right professionals before embarking on the purchase of a property with someone. You must get independent mortgage and legal advice from your respective co-owners so that you are informed of all the consequences of co-ownership and can take proper steps to safeguard your interest. If the property is to be legally held by more than one person, a lender is likely to require that all legal owners are party to the mortgage so that they are completely protected.
A joint account should be set up from which all joint expenses for the property can be paid, and so that you keep your own personal costs separate. You can then also trace which party has made what contribution. If you do settle into a joint account, then you might want to reference each payment as to what it relates to, i.e., “Council Tax,” “new boiler,” “service charge payment,” etc.
According to legal specialists, you and your co-owners should put everything down in written and have clear agreements about the status and sharing of jointly owned property. They also advise that joint property should be developed in such a way that it can quite easily be partitioned in the future if one owner wants to sell their share.