Methods of Land Ownership
Under Queensland Law there are two ways that land can be held in the names of more than one person. These are as joint tenants or as tenants in common. When land is transferred if no method of holding is specified the land is registered a tenants in common.
AS JOINT TENANTS
This is usually appropriate for couples but can be used in other situations and for more than two people. As each joint tenant dies then the others automatically obtain the whole of the property and the last survivor takes all. By automatic, the land is transferred to the survivor(s) despite any provisions in the deceased person’s Will to the contrary.
The procedure for obtaining registration of the title to the land by the surviving joint tenants is simpler, faster and less expensive than in the case of the death of a tenant in common. All joint tenants must sign a Transfer of the property if any interest in it is to be disposed of. Without the intervention of a Court, a joint tenant is restricted in disposing of his/her interest unless the other joint tenants agree. A joint tenant may sever the joint tenancy at any time by giving notice to the other(s) and registering a transfer in the Land Titles Office (and paying fees for preparation, stamp duty and registration)
This mode of holding land is not suitable should any of the parties wish to leave his/her interest in the land to a person who is not one of the joint tenants. It is also not advisable if there is a disproportionate contribution to the purchase moneys and the parties wish to hold the land in unequal shares.
AS TENANTS IN COMMON
This form of ownership allows persons to give their interest in the land to persons other than the surviving co-owners. This is common where relatives such as parents and children or brothers and sisters are co-owners. It may also be appropriate where a co-owner has remarried and he or she wishes to make provision in his/her Will for the children of a first marriage as well as the existing spouse. The interest of a tenant in common may be transferred without the need for the other tenants in common to join in the Transfer.
An advantage with having land registered as tenants in common is that the shares of the co-owners can be either equal or unequal. If unequal contributions to the acquisition of the property have been made by the co-owners, then this may be reflected in the fractions of the shares which they hold. For example, the land could be held in the fractions of 2/9 and 7/9, or any other desired fractions.
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