Joint Tenants/Tenants in Common

Have you bought or decided to buy a house or land with your spouse, your same-sex defacto partner, your defacto partner, a relative or a friend? If so, you might want to consider whether you will own the house or land as joint tenants or as tenants in common.

There are two different ways you can own a property with another person, as joint tenants or as tenants in common.

What are joint tenants?
Joint tenants:

  • own the entire property equally
  • cannot own the property in unequal shares
  • if one joint tenant dies, the property automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant. This means the property is not part of the property included in any Will and that the property will pass to the surviving joint tenant even if there is no Will.

What are tenants in common?
Tenants in common:

  • own the property in the shares they nominate when they buy the property
  • can own the property in unequal shares if they have contributed unequally to buying the property
  • if one tenant in common dies, their share of the property becomes part of the property covered by their will.

Which should I choose?
There is no hard and fast rule about which form of ownership you should choose. It is a matter of deciding which form of ownership is right for your circumstances. If you are unsure about which way you want to own the property, you should discuss this matter with your Solicitor when buying the property. If you have already bought property and want to change from joint tenants to tenants in common or vice versa, this is quite a simple and inexpensive process.