Purchasing Property with a Spouse: Joint Proprietors or Tenants in Common

18 February 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog


Home ownership rates in Australia range between 68 to 70%. Many couples are interested in making equal or unequal contributions to a mortgage in order to achieve home ownership; however, when transferring the title over to yourself and your spouse, it is important to consider whether you want the conveyance to list both of you as a joint proprietor or a tenant in common. Although similar in some ways, these two options are quite different legally. Depending on your financial or personal situation, there are advantages to both, which will be explored in this article.

Joint Proprietor vs. Tenant in Common

First of all, it is important to define the difference between joint proprietors versus tenants in common. If two people as joint proprietors hold the property, the ownership of the property will automatically pass to the surviving joint proprietor in the event that the other one has passed away. In comparison, if the property is held by two persons as a tenant in common, half of the property is subject to be distributed pursuant to the deceased's will. 

Reasons Why Choosing to Be Tenants in Common May Help Alleviate Misunderstandings or Future Problems

In short, the main difference between the two options will involve how the real estate property will be distributed in the event of a death. If you are considering between a joint proprietor and a tenant in common, you should consider whether you have children outside of the marriage that you would like to make sure are taken care off after you have passed away. 

While you may trust your spouse to do the right thing, opting to be tenants in common can help alleviate any tension that may result later on or any disputes that may arise between your spouse and of your children, as the real estate property will be properly distributed after you have passed away, and you can include how you would like the property to be distributed, along with any terms and conditions, in your will. In addition, couples may choose to opt for being tenants in common if they are contributing unequal amounts to the mortgage or to the total payment. The real estate will be distributed based on what was agreed upon on paper.


Although most couples would like to opt to become joint proprietors in order to share their wealth with one another, at times, it may be best to suggest becoming tenants in common instead. While it may be a rather awkward situation to bring up, being tenants in common may help everyone avoid having to deal with future disputes.

Contact a professional, such as Ray Swift Moutrage & Associates, for more information.