Joint Tenancy vs Tenants in Common

Purchasing property is a significant investment and it is becoming increasingly popular for two or more people to purchase a property together. For example a married couple, siblings, or friends.

With this in mind, it is imperative that you choose the correct type of ownership at the start of the purchase process which will help to prevent any problems down the track if one of the owners wants to relinquish their share, or upon the death of a co-owner.

TYPES OF OWNERSHIP

Whilst both tenancies give each party ownership rights and a share of the property, the main difference between these two kinds of tenancy is the fact that there are different rules concerning the death of one of the tenants.

JOINT TENANCY

If you purchase as Joint Tenants, both purchasers own the property together. You cannot specify a percentage of ownership, rather each owner holds 100% jointly with the other owner. You can have more than two Joint Tenants on title. An example of a joint tenancy is the ownership over a house by a married couple. In this situation, joint tenancy comes with the ”right of survivorship”. That means that when one of the joint tenants dies, the interest of the deceased joint tenant automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant or tenants and does not form part of the estate of the deceased.

Tenants in Common

Joint tenancy and tenancy in common are the two most common classifications of ownership of a

property.

A joint tenancy can be broken if one of the tenants transfers or sells his or her interest to another person, therefore changing the ownership arrangement to a tenancy in common for all parties. This requires lodgement of a form at the Landgate and a registration fee.

TENANTS IN COMMON

Tenancy in common, on the other hand, refers to ownership over a certain property by parties who do not automatically have a right of survivorship (for example friends or siblings). They are co-owners of the property, however their shares and interest over the property do not have to be equal and depend entirely on the agreed shares of the parties i.e. from 1% to 99%.

You can have more than two Tenants in Common on title. Tenancies in common also may be obtained at different times; so an individual may obtain an interest in the property years after one or more other individuals have entered into a tenancy in common ownership.

As each purchaser owns their share, they can sell or transfer their share as they please. In a tenancy in common arrangement, if one of the parties dies their interest in the property forms part of the deceased’s estate and does not automatically pass on to any co-owner of the property.

Tenancy in Common is usually the way that unrelated parties who want their families to inherit their share hold property. It is also common when purchasers are contributing unequally to the purchase and they want this reflected on title. In theory each share can be separately sold and mortgaged, however, this is difficult in practice.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOINT TENANCY AND TENANTS IN COMMON

One of the main differences between the two types of shared ownership is what happens to the property when one of the owners dies. When a property is owned by joint tenants, the interest of a deceased owner automatically gets transferred to the remaining surviving owners. For example, if three joint tenants own a house and one of them dies, the two remaining tenants each obtain a one-half share of the property. This is called the right of survivorship.

Tenants in common have no rights of survivorship. Unless the deceased individual’s will or other instrument specifies that his or her interest in the property is to be divided among the surviving owners, a deceased tenant in common’s interest belongs to the estate.

Please consider your circumstances and intentions when deciding whether to purchase as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. This must be selected on the front page of the contract.

If you are still unsure as to the differences between these options or would like further information on property ownership, contact Supreme Settlements today, where one of our experienced and knowledgeable conveyancers will be happy to discuss them further.

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