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Buying a property is perhaps one of the most crucial decisions of your lifetime. It is not an easy affair. There can be implications when more than one buyer is involved, and you have to choose between joint tenants and tenants in common.

We often receive questions such as “What is the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common?” Although both forms of tenancy are remarkably similar, both have a significant difference especially with regard to the right of possession to the property and how the property will be held in the event of the death of a co-proprietor.

Joint Tenants

When parties own property as joint tenants, this means that:

  • all joint tenants have equal ownership and interest (undivided equal share) in the property; and
  • a right of survivorship exists.


As joint tenants you own 100% of the house together – the emphasis is on together. You do not own 50%. You own 100% but together with the other joint tenant of the property.

The right of survivorship means that if one of the joint tenants dies, the property will automatically pass to the surviving joint tenant. This happens regardless of any contrary intentions in the Will of the deceased. Thus, taking into account the way a property is owned when buying a property or preparing Wills and an estate plan is important.

Tenants in Common

In contrast, when parties own property as tenants in common:

  • the shares owned by each tenant in common can be equal or unequal: and
  • there is no right of survivorship.

At first sight, tenants in common looks exactly the same as a joint tenancy but it is not. Tenants in common means that each registered proprietor owns a share in the property. This share could be 50/50 or 60/40 or any combination, provided that the shares add up to 100% ownership. With tenants in common, you now you own your portion of shares (e.g. 50%) alone and you have the right to sell this 50% alone without the other tenant’s consent. On the death of a registered proprietor, the Will of the deceased determines the outcome of the deceased’s share in the property.

If you would like inquire about they types of tenancy or find out more about your rights and options, Straits Lawyers are here to help. Simply send us an email at or give us a call on 8410 9069 to arrange an appointment for an online interview.

Alternatively, if you would like purchase or sell a property, Straits Lawyers are now offering online conveyancing services. To access these services, simply click on the link –

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice and Straits Lawyers will not be legally responsible for any actions you take based on this article.