While it might seem that concurrent ownership of land in Ontario is a straightforward topic, the opposite is actually true. The way in which one shares a piece of property is important. If considering owning a piece of property in cooperation with a friend, partner, or spouse, it’s important to know the different types of ownership options available to you, and the implications each one may have.
In Ontario, concurrent ownership is primarily divided into two categories: Joint Tenancy, and Tenants in Common. While they may on the surface seem similar, the effect of each type of ownership could mean the difference between having any control whatsoever over the land, and simply being brought “along for the ride” until the sale of land occurs and partial proceeds are received.
Joint Tenancy is the ownership of land by two or more persons. On the death of one, the surviving parties get the whole interest in the property. To achieve Joint Tenancy, four key requirements (or “unities”) must be satisfied: Title, Time, Possession, and Interest. (THINK: PITT)
One of the main requirements of Joint Tenancy is that all tenants must receive or derive their title from the same instrument. This document could be in many forms, such as a Deed or a Will. Its important that the same document is used in claiming ownership between all the parties, or the possession may not be qualified as Joint Tenancy.
Another important unity required to achieve Joint Tenancy is Time. The interest of each joint tenant MUST begin at the same time. In no way can a joint tenant’s posession begin before or after the others; in that case it would no longer be considered Joint Tenancy.
Possession is, arguably, the most interesting of the four unities. In the eyes of the law, each party does not hold a partial possession of the property. Rather, each owner is entitled to an undivided possession of the whole property, without exclusion of the other owners. In other words, each tenant owns equal interest in the whole property, while having no interest in a fraction of the property. In the case of four joint tenants, the four would not hold 25% of the property each, but they would instead each hold 100% interest of the property.
In Joint Tenancy, each joint tenant must hold an identical interest in the property in all aspects, including nature, extent, and duration.
Joint Tenancy: Survivorship
Joint Tenancy is survivable. This means, in the event that one of the Joint Tenants passes, the tenancy is passed to the surviving owners. This is particularly useful when the home is placed in tenancy between spouses. In the event of the passing of one spouse, ownership immediately transfers to the remaining spouse!
An interesting caveat to Joint Tenancy is when it comes to matrimonial homes. Matrimonial homes have been deemed by the government to be a home that was purchased during marriage. In the event that the deceased held joint tenancy with someone OTHER than the spouse, the tenancy is severed immediately before the death, creating a tenants-in-common relationship. This relationship survives the decesased and extends to the estate of the decesased, which gives the deceased’s spouse claim to a portion of the matrimonial home.
Tenants In Common
Without the 4 unities, a tenants in common arrangement is typically established. Instead of each person owning an undivided interest in the property, the interest in the property is typically divided between multiple individuals. Unlike Joint Tenancy, no survivorship exists.
Still have questions about concurrent ownership? Why not Contact Us today for a free consultation on the ownership of your property.