The Law of Survivorship: Why Is It Important When Buying a House?


Are you buying a home with your partner, sibling, parent, or friend?

When purchasing a property with another individual, you may be asked whether you would like to own the property as a joint tenant or tenant in common.


Joint Tenant


A Joint Tenant is sometimes referred to as the right of survivorship.

The ‘law of survivorship’ means that assets, such as land which are jointly owned, do not have a defined interest for the joint owners.

Neither owner owns a specific ‘share’ in the land.

Everyone registered on the Title owns the whole of the land, and the last surviving owner of the land will own it absolutely.

If you register as Joint Tenants, upon the passing of one Joint Tenant, the survivor(s) must register this passing upon the Title.

Upon registration, the ownership vests in the surviving Joint Tenant.

The Wills of the Join Tenants will need to be prepared so that they agree with this method of registration.


Tenants in Common 


The alternative method of holding property is as Tenants in Common.

Tenants in Common means that everyone registered on the Title owns a share of the property.

If you register as Tenants in Common, you have the right to leave your portion of the property to whoever you wish.

Even when the death of one of the owners is registered on the Title, ownership does not automatically transfer to the other registered owners.

Read about Co-Ownership Agreements here.

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Related Blog – Co-Ownership Agreement: Do I Need One?