When you purchase a property there are two main ways to determine the ownership. It is not a simple question as to which category of ownership you choose and choosing the incorrect or inappropriate one can have major implications in death, changes of ownership or in the event of a breakdown between the ownership relationship.


What is a Joint Tenant?

Put simply it means that the owners or “registered proprietor” (generally two but can be more) own the property jointly. Should either of the “registered proprietors die, then the property is automatically transferred to the surviving registered proprietor(s).

This is common with married couples as the ownership will pass to the surviving spouse.


What is a tenant in common?

It means that the owners or “registered proprietor” own a shares in the property. The shares do not have to be even for instance 50/50, 70/30 or any combination the registered proprietors like as long as it adds up to 100%. On the death of a registered proprietor, the ‘share’ forms apart of the deceased’s estate and must be determined by an existing will or estate legislation.


This is more common where parties have contributed unequal shares in the property and the owners want that to be reflected in ownership or where a relationship is new or a blended family as it is easier to dispose of ownership under this form.

buying a house in NSW

You should always consider the financial and tax implications of either and consult your financial advisors.



Some Examples of Property Ownership

Married Couple

William and Tara are married and own a property together as joint tenants. Tara is involved in a car accident and passes away. Williams is then able to have the property transferred into his sole name by producing a copy of Tara’s Death Certificate and relevant forms to the Land Registry Services.


Couple in a New Relationship

William and Tara have only been together for a few months, and they decided to purchase a new home together, they purchased as tenants in common both with 50% ownership. William dies in a skydiving accident a few years later, the property is then dealt with according to Tara’s will.


Blended Family

William and Tara are in a relationship, but both have a number of children from a previous relationship. They want to be able to provide for their children in death with the home being their biggest asset. They purchase the property as a tenants in common so that if either Williams or Tara die the property shares are then distributed according to their respective wills.



William and Blake are two brothers, each want to get a foot on the property ladder and decide to ‘go in together’ to buy a property. The brothers are able to purchase the property outright and William has 70% of the money. The brothers purchase as tenants in common with William having a 70% share and Blake having a 30% share.


For most the purchase of a property is the biggest decision of your life, ensure to get appropriate legal advice.


This article does not constitute legal advice.

Need legal advice? Catron Simmons can help.