Forms of Ownership

Depending on your circumstances and objectives, you will select the type of home ownership and the type of home that best suits you. There are ongoing legal implications resulting from this decision.

Legal Forms of Ownership

There are two basic legal ownership structures: Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS) and Tenancy in Common.

Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship (JTWROS)

This structure is typically chosen by couples. In this arrangement all the owners have equal and unrestricted access to the property so the property is not divided into specific parts. One reason why couples usually choose JTWROS is the ‘Right of Survivorship” where if one of the owners dies, their interest is immediately assumed by the other owner(s) avoiding any estate/Will issues. If the surviving owner is not a spouse there can be tax implications. Your advisor can provide you with further information.

Tenancy in Common

Tenancy in Common is similar to a partnership arrangement where each of the parties has a particular interest in the property. For example, three people might choose to buy a property as Tenants in Common with each contributing and holding a 1/3 ownership share. An important distinction from JTWROS is that a Tenant in Common can bequest their part of the property to whom they choose through their Will. When structuring a purchase as Tenants in Common it is always prudent to draw up a legal agreement in regards to how the property will be sold and the rights of the remaining owners.

Condominiums

Condominiums are a very popular home ownership option,, particularly in urban areas. There are many advantages to condominiums such as:

  • typically cheaper than standalone homes
  • communal facilities such as pools, parking and fitness
  • the opportunity to participate in the real estate market at a lower cost
  • wide selection of sizes and amenities
  • opportunity to live in an urban setting at reasonable cost
  • no direct responsibility for yard and property maintenance

However, there are disadvantages to condominiums as well:

  • Condominium rules such as restrictions on children, pets, noise and other activities may not suit your lifestyle
  • Real estate appreciation is typically not as great as with a standalone home
  • Condominium councils may be acting at odds to some individual owners
  • Owners may be paying monthly maintenance fees for services and facilities they don't use

Condominiums are often a lifestyle choice popular with young people wishing to get into the real estate market while still enjoying the urban lifestyle, and with older people looking to 'downsize', take some equity out of the family home and avoid the responsibilities of property maintenance. You should discuss your needs and objectives with friends, family and your advisor to determine what approach is right for you.