Joint Tenancy v Tenants in Common: What is the difference?

Joint Tenancy v Tenants in Common

There are two main ways in which multiple owners of a property can be recorded on the title of the property – joint tenants or tenants in common.  It is the choice of the purchasers which title interest they choose.  But what is the difference?

Joint tenants is the most common way in which couples purchase a property together, giving each party an equal share in the property.  This is because a joint tenancy gives rise to the rights of survivorship, which means that in the event one of the joint tenants passes away, the other owners title in the property is automatically transferred to the surviving owner, regardless of what is written in the deceased’s Will.  This ensures efficient ownership transfers when an owner passes away, which may alleviate stress on the surviving party/ies.

It is possible to sever a joint tenancy, without consent being given by the other owner. However, the other party will be given notice by the NSW Land Registry Service.  This is commonly done by separating parties prior to the finalisation of property settlement. 

If parties elect to have their title reflected as tenants in common, each owner has an individual share in the property.  Upon the death of one tenant, their interest in the property will be transferred in accordance with their Will, or the laws of intestacy. 

Parties are also able to purchase property in unequal shares – which is recorded on the property title as tenants in common in unequal shares.  This is used to represent different percentages of ownership within the property, other than 50/50.  For example, one party may have an 80% share, and the other may have a 20% share.  Because of this, tenants in common is a more flexible arrangement. 

Joint tenants have an equal responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the property, whereas tenants in common are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their own individual share in the property. 

Parties who own a share in property as tenants in common should ensure that they either have a Will, or their Will is up to date, to ensure that their interest in the property is transferred in accordance with their wishes. 

In the event you are unsure whether you own property as joint tenants or tenants in common, a title search will show how the ownership is held. 

It is important to understand the difference between these types of property ownership before purchasing a property. 

If you have any questions or concerns in relation to tenancy on your property, reach out to our team on 0246554224 or email at

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