There are two ways ownership can be shared between two or more people: joint tenants and tenants in common. 

Due to the increasingly unaffordable housing market, it’s common for two or more people to purchase a property together. 

Purchasing a property with another person can make it easier to enter the market. However, there are many legal and financial impacts that need to be considered. 

It’s important to understand the differences between purchasing as a joint tenant or tenant in common. Knowing these key differences is essential and can greatly assist your purchasing decision. 

At first glance these terms sound similar. So we’ve outlined the main differences so you know which ownership is right for you.  


Joint Tenants 

When two or more people own property as joint tenants, all parties have equal ownership and interest in the property. 

There are matters which relate to a jointly held property, including survivorship. Should either of the registered proprietors die, the property is automatically transferred to the surviving joining tenant(s). 

When the last surviving joint tenant passes away, the ownership of the property will go to their estate. 

It is advised to consider what ownership you choose when preparing wills and estate plans. Doing this will avoid any disputes that could lead to hefty legal bills. 


Tenants in Common 

When two or more parties own property as tenants in common, they can co-own a property in defined shares. The share can be equal or unequal, and should reflect the owner’s actual interest in the property. 

For example, you could have a 10% share of a property, and accordingly the other owner(s) would hold the balance 90% share. 

Unlike joint tenants, there is no ‘right of survivorship’. If either owners pass away, the share will not pass to the other owner(s) automatically. Instead, it will be transferred in accordance to your will. 

It is important that those who own property as tenants in common update their wills accordingly. 


Common mistakes people make 

Many new couples will elect ‘joint tenants’ when purchasing a property together. This is because they think that the arrangement is the simple option. This causes a problem if they wish to leave property to their children down the track. 

It is inevitable that someone may pass away during your joint ownership of a property. This poses a problem if you don’t consider the differences between owning the property as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’, 


What option is best for you? 

The type of ownership arrangement best suited for you is greatly dependant on your individual situation. 

Married or in a long-term relationship – Joint Tenancy is typically the best ownership arrangement. This allows equal ownership of all your property as part of your shared life. Joint tenancy can also be used for other property ownership including cars and other assets. 

Blended family  – Tenant in Common is best suited for those who are remarried with children from a previous relationship. If either of the property owners pass away, their interest can be accounted for in accordance with their will. 

Investors – If you are purchasing a property with a friend or business partner for investment purposes, Tenants in Common is the best arrangement for you. This allows flexibility if a party wishes to leave the investment for any reason.   

You can read more about entering the Queensland property market here


Always seek legal advice 

Sharing ownership of a property is a huge step to take for any person. Understanding the difference between joint tenants and tenancy in common will assist in preventing problems down the track. 

Seeking advice from a legal professional will help you decipher the best option for your unique situation. 

Are you looking to co-own a property and assistant deciding what option is best for you? The Cameron Rogers property team understands each individual circumstance to thoroughly guide you through your property journey.

Reach out to us for an obligation free consultation now on 07 5445 1213 or book a consultation.