Joint ownership of property is fast gaining momentum among couples following the increasing economic empowerment of women. Traditionally, women in relationships preferred property registered in the name of their men despite their contribution to the purchase. The trend is fast changing as more enlightened women insist to be registered as co-owners of homes or plots they contributed in purchasing.
The lawyers say their clients prefer this mode of ownership to avoid property succession battles upon death of spouses. Joint ownership is also common in chamas (merry-go-rounds) where legal provisions that guarantee ownership to partners are adhered to.
Joint ownership guarantees survivorship, meaning upon the death of any of the owners(s), the surviving one(s) become legal owners, therefore preventing tussles. There is also safety from unsecured creditors as the surviving joint owner is immune from unsecured debts incurred by the deceased partner before death. If the debtor is the survivor, creditors will have access to the entire property that was co-owned. This mode of ownership is also common among private developers who pool resources to purchase land to construct commercial and residential buildings. For couples that prefer joint ownership, they may be eligible for higher loan amounts as their incomes can be joined to determine borrowing eligibility.
Tax benefitsIt could also be easier to pool resources to buy property as partners, especially with high interest rates charged on loans. In countries like India, joint ownership means tax benefits are available for both husband and wife. If a husband and wife have property with equal shares, then they are both entitled to claim deductions. Joint ownership also makes it easier for any of the partners to pledge the property as security to borrow loans in future.
It enables easy transfer of a house or land among spouses, as they can nominate their children as future owners of the property. Moreover, the husband and wife have equal rights in the property and their interests are secured. The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.
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