You can buy a house jointly with someone who is not a relative

You can purchase the property either as ‘joint tenants’ or as ‘tenants in common


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Can I buy a house jointly with my friend?

—Krish Pillai

Yes, you can buy a house with a friend. There is no legal requirement for a person to buy a house only with family members and you can buy it jointly with any other person. You can purchase the property either as ‘joint tenants’ or as ‘tenants in common’.

In the case of a joint tenancy, upon the death of one of you, the interest of the deceased joint-owner in the house will automatically pass to the surviving joint-owner, whereas in the case of ‘tenants in common’, the interest of the deceased tenant will pass to his or her heirs (as per the Will or as per the laws of succession applicable to the deceased at the time of his or her death) and not the surviving tenant in common.

It is, therefore, advisable to clarify the nature of your interest in the property in the sale deed at the time of purchasing the property. In case the house forms part of a co-operative housing society, you should ensure that the bye-laws of the housing society allow you and your friend to purchase the house as tenants in common or joint tenants. You should also consult your tax advisers on the tax implications of such joint purchase and holding, in case any income will be earned by you on the jointly held property.

I am a divorcee and have an eight-year-old son. The house that we lived in is in my ex-husband’s name. Will my son inherit this house?

—Sakshi Khanna

I am assuming for the purpose of answering this query that the consideration for the house in question has been paid fully by your ex-husband and that the house is his self-acquired property and does not form part of a Hindu Undivided Family. Further, I am also assuming that your husband is not governed by Mohammedan personal law and that the house will continue to remain his sole and absolute property at the time of his death.

If your ex-husband dies intestate (i.e., without making a Will), then his estate (including the house in question), will devolve upon his legal heirs, which would include your son.

The share of each of the legal heirs would depend upon the personal law governing your husband at the time of his death, the number of legal heirs and the relationship of the legal heirs with your husband. For example, if your husband was governed by Hindu law, your husband’s mother and if he had remarried, his wife and children from such subsequent marriage would also be entitled to a share in his property. If there are other heirs at the time of your husband’s death, your son’s share in the house would accordingly reduce, depending upon the number of legal heirs and their respective shares.

However, if your husband dies testate, i.e., having made a valid Will, the house would devolve exclusively upon the person(s) mentioned in the Will as the beneficiary of such house, to the exclusion of the other heirs.

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