Joint Ownership – A Fair Share is Not Always Equal

Property prices in some locations are at historic heights. We are continually reading reports in the paper about the “hot property market” and clearance rates at auctions are at an unprecedented high. Conveyancing volumes certainly appear to be high.

Given the high prices, we are increasingly seeing friends and family members looking at purchasing a property together. If you and your partner, friend or colleague decide to buy a property together, you need to be aware that property can be held in different ways and the implications of that will affect your decision.

In New South Wales, two or more people can own a property either as “joint tenants” or “tenants in common”.

If you buy a property as joint tenants, this means that if one of the owners dies, then the other owner automatically owns the whole property through the right of survivorship. The default for property ownership under the contract for the sale and in conveyancing for the purchase of land is joint tenants.

If you hold the property as tenants in common, this can be in equal or unequal shares. Also, by holding property in this manner, each of the tenants in common can dictate how they wish their portion of the property be dealt with upon their death. We often see friends and siblings and some couples decide to hold property in this way.

It is important to understand the differences between the two types of property ownership as part of the conveyancing process and before you buy a property in order to assess the best outcome for your arrangements. When considering this issue, it is also essential to think about it in the wider context of estate planning and what you would like to happen to your assets.

All things are not always equal.

Our next blog post will address further aspects of property Co-ownership including the need to enter into a Co-ownership Agreement prior to purchasing a property.

Please contact us if you have any questions. Don’t hesitate to contact the expert property lawyers and conveyancers at ClickLaw if you have any queries or would like to discuss the conveyancing process or co-ownership aspects of your conveyance.

John Kettle

Solicitor Director

ClickLaw Australia