Jointly-owned property – who pays the tax?

Citi Accounts | Accountants for Landlords

With a jointly-owned property, the way in which the rental income can be split between the
joint owners for tax purposes depends on whether the joint owners are married or in a civil
partnership or not.

Married couples and civil partners
Where a property is jointly owned by a married couple or civil partners, the basic rule is that
the rental income is split equally, regardless of the actual underlying ownership.

John and Lisa are married. They jointly own a flat in which John has a 20% stake and
Lisa has a 80% stake. The flat is let out and the rental profit is £15,000 a year.

Despite owning the property in unequal shares, John and Lisa are both individually taxed on 50% of
the rental income (£7,500).

However, where the beneficial ownership is unequal, the couple can elect for
the income to be assessed for tax purposes in accordance with their actual beneficial
shares. In the above example, were John and Lisa to make an election, John
would be taxed on rental profits of £3,000 (20%) and Lisa would be taxed on £12,000

For married couples and civil partners, the only permissible allocations are 50:50 (the default
position) and, on the making of an election, in accordance with actual ownership
where the property is owned in unequal shares.

Joint owners who are not married or in a civil partnership
Where a property is owned jointly by individuals who are not married or in a civil partnership,
it is usual for the rental income to be allocated in accordance with the ownership share.
However, the joint owners can agree to a different division of profits and losses – the
allocation for tax purposes does not have to mirror the actual ownership of the property.
However, where a different allocation is agreed, the split for tax purposes must match the
actual allocation of rental profits.

Suresh and his girlfriend Andrea jointly own a flat which they let out. Suresh owns 70% of the
property and Andrea owns 30% of the property. The rental profit is £10,000 a year.
Suresh has £3,000 of his basic rate band available, whereas Andrea has £9,000 of her basic rate
band available. Therefore, to minimise the tax payable on the rental income, they agree that
it will be shared so that Suresh receives 30% (£3,000) and Andrea receives 70% (£7,000).

Where joint owners are not married or in a civil partnership it is possible to agree an actual
allocation that minimises tax. However, depending on the relationship between the owners,
the tax considerations may be secondary as each owner may be keen to receive a share of
rental profits proportionate to their actual stake in the property.


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