You might change who is registered as legal owner of a property for a number of reasons.
These can be on a transfer of equity or on the change of name of an owner.
The process differs depending on which situation you have.
Transfer of equity
A transfer of equity is a change in ownership. The phrase is most commonly used in respect of land and property, but it can apply to other types of asset as well.
Examples of when a transfer might happen include:
- on the sale of the property (the term conveyancing means the process of transferring equity)
- as a gift (for example, when a parent adds a child as an owner to their property)
- on the distribution of an estate after an owner's death
- by court order (such as when a financial consent order is made during divorce proceedings)
- by agreement (such as on separation)
Generally, a conveyancing solicitor will refer to a property transfer as a result of sale as a conveyance, and for any other reason as a transfer of equity.
Note that adding or removing a name from the deeds is actually transferring ownership. In order for one person to have a new or greater ownership share, someone else must give up their share.
You can read more about transfers of equity to family members.
Change of name
You can change your name at any time, but most changes happen:
- on marriage or civil partnership
- on divorce or at separation (for example, you might revert to a maiden name)
- when you change gender
Since the Land Registry is the definitive record of ownership, you'll want to update the register for your change of name.
The transfer process in a nutshell
- Obtain a copy of the title deeds
- Check who currently has legal title and whether there are any restrictions on the property (such as permission required to change ownership from someone else) or charges (such as a mortgage)
- Gather documents to prove your identity (either to your conveyancer or to the Registry)
- Notify and, if necessary, obtain consent from necessary third parties (such as a mortgage lender or lease administrator)
- Prepare the transfer deed documents
- Send the documents to the Land Registry and pay any fee
Obtain the existing records first
While not a requirement, it is usually a good idea to obtain a copy of the official register before you change it. You can do this on the Land Registry website for a nominal amount (currently £3).
Most usefully, the records will give you your title number.
Review the title deeds
The deeds will confirm the existing owner and whether there are any restrictions on transfer registered.
If there is a mortgage outstanding on the property then the permission of the mortgage lender will usually be necessary to be obtained in order to remove the name of one of the owners. The mortgage provider will usually assess the financial ability of the remaining owner to make repayments under a new mortgage deed.
Proof of your identity
Name changes on marriage or civil partnership
Send a certified copy of your marriage certificate with the form to the Register.
Other name changes
Name changes happen most frequently on marriage and divorce, but of course, they can also be made by deed poll or statutory declaration.
If you are a non-professional conveyancer (i.e. not a solicitor), you should also send certification of your personal identity (ID1). Download Form ID1.
Then send it with evidence of your change of name (for example, the deed poll document, your marriage certificate or your decree absolute) and AP1 to the Land Registry. The fee box should state 'nil' because there will be nothing to pay.
Complete Form AP1
Download and complete Form AP1, which is the application form to amend the title register.
Where all the owners change
If the entire property is to be transferred to new owners (such as on a house purchase by completely new owners), Form TR1 should be completed and filed with the Land Registry.
You'll also need to complete Form AP1 and Form ID1.
Partial changes in ownership
A partial change might occur if when there are (or will be) two or more people who are owners, but only one name needs to be added or removed. For example, when:
- adding a partner, husband or wife to the title deed
- gifting a share in a property to a child or other family members (such as giving an inheritance early)
- buying out a joint owner (such as an ex partner)
- removing a joint owner from the house deeds (such as on a divorce settlement or separation)
However, there is no difference in the process that needs to be followed between a full change in ownership and a partial one. Complete forms AP1, ID1 and TR1.
Transfer equity on probate or administration of an estate on death
When someone dies, removing the deceased person's name from the property deed may be necessary in order to complete the probate process and distribute his or her estate to the beneficiaries.
The name of the deceased person might be replaced with those of the beneficiaries, or in the case of sale of the property, with a new owner.
Where the property was owned by two owners as joint tenants and one dies, the surviving joint owner becomes the sole legal owner of the property.
In order to remove the name of the deceased, Form DJP (Deceased Joint Proprietor) must be completed and filed along with a copy of the death certificate.
If a beneficiary is entitled to inherit the property, the executor or personal representative of the estate can transfer into their name. This part of the probate process, transferring property from a deceased person's estate to a new owner, is called assent.
An AP1 Form and an AS1 Form must be sent to HM Land Registry, along with the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. The correct fee will also need to be enclosed (as well as Form ID1 if you don't use a conveyancer).
There is no requirement to show the Grant of Representation to the Land Registry, which means updating the title deeds can be done soon after death. Just make sure that estate has enough cash in it to pay any inheritance tax liability, and that the property will not need to be sold to provide cash.
Form TR1 is used in the majority of conveyancing transactions to create a transfer deed between a buyer and a seller of the property, or previous owners and new owners (if no money is being transferred).
It should be used to:
- transfer the whole of the property in one or more registered titles
- to register the property for the first time
If only part of the registered title is being transferred (part of the property, such as a garden), Form TP1 should be used instead.
Before transfer, you should check whether the property has been previously registered using the Land Registry’s Find A Property service.
If it has, you should obtain an up-to-date official copy of the Register and check it for any issues that might make transfer more difficult. Restrictions such as restrictive covenants may limit how the property can be used or amended. Leasehold clauses may require the consent of the landlord. If there is a mortgage on the property, consent of the lender may be required. HM Land Registry gives further guidance.
Completing Form TR1
The form is straightforward to complete provided that you have all the information to hand.
You need to know the title number the property if it has been registered before, and provide a brief description including the postcode of the property has one.
The date of completion should be completed once the transfer has been executed.
There is a requirement to state the amount paid for property, or that the transfer is a gift or that there is some other form of consideration that is non-monetary.
Panel 10 records the intentions of joint owners and establishing a declaration of trust. Alternatively, Form JO can be used.
With Form TR1, you should send HM Land Registry the Stamp Duty Land Tax certificate if relevant, and Form AP1 for already registered property or Form FR1 for new property.
It’s possible to transfer property ownership yourself without help from anyone else. You simply need to complete the right forms and pay any fee.
We often recommend that you seek professional help because the value of property is sufficiently high versus the comparatively low cost of conveyancing to make it worthwhile getting the transfer right.
The price of conveyancing for a transfer of names is usually only a couple of hundred pounds – much cheaper than for when property is being sold.
By law, only a solicitor working for a firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or a licensed conveyancer can do the work on your behalf for a fee.
We explain in more detail whether you might want to use a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer.
Another consideration is whether you might benefit from independent legal advice regarding the transaction. If there is a cost to you in any way of becoming an owner, you might want to make sure that there are no unknown issues - things that might influence the future value or give you obligations as an owner.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
There is no CGT implication on transfers of equity to your spouse, civil partner, or a charity.
However, except if the proportion transferred was below the CGT threshold, the transfer would be subject to CGT if it was to anyone else, such as children or another family member.
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
SDLT might be chargeable depending on your location in the UK, who ownership is transferred to, and your own circumstances. Understanding SDLT implications is another benefit of talking to a conveyancer.