Tenants in Common VS Joint Tenants

Tenants in common vs Joint tenants

When it comes to property ownership in Australia, there are two primary ways in which individuals can hold title to a property: as joint tenants or as tenants in common. These two forms of ownership carry distinct legal implications and consequences. It’s essential for property owners to understand the differences between these two arrangements to make informed decisions about their property holdings and estate planning. In this article, we will explore the key distinctions between joint tenants and tenants in common.

Joint Tenants

1. Ownership:

When individuals hold property as joint tenants, they have equal and undivided ownership of the entire property. This means that they share the property equally, and there is no specific division of shares. Joint tenants have unity of possession, meaning they each have the right to access and use the entire property.

2. Right of Survivorship:

One of the most significant differences between joint tenants and tenants in common is the right of survivorship. In a joint tenancy arrangement, if one of the co-owners passes away, their share automatically transfers to the surviving joint tenant(s). This ensures that the property remains in the hands of the surviving co-owners.

3. Estate Planning:

Because of the right of survivorship, joint tenants should consider their estate planning if the property is not intended to go to the other joint tenant upon their death. When a joint tenant dies, their share of the property automatically passes to the surviving co-owners.

Tenants in Common

1. Ownership and Division:

Unlike joint tenants, tenants in common have distinct and separate shares in the property. These shares can be equal or unequal, depending on the owners’ agreement. Each tenant in common can sell, transfer, or bequeath their share independently. For instance, one owner will hold 60% ownership and the other will own 40% making up 100% of the property ownership.

2. No Right of Survivorship:

The absence of the right of survivorship is a fundamental difference between tenants in common and joint tenants. If a tenant in common passes away, their share of the property does not automatically transfer to the other co-owners. Instead, it becomes part of their estate and is distributed according to their will or intestacy laws.

3. Unequal Ownership:

In a tenancy in common, co-owners can have unequal shares in the property, reflecting their respective contributions or investment in the property. This arrangement provides greater flexibility in property ownership percentages.


Choosing between joint tenancy and tenancy in common in Queensland, Australia, is a critical decision that impacts property ownership, estate planning and the distribution of assets. Joint tenancy offers equal ownership and the right of survivorship. In contrast, tenancy in common provides individual ownership shares, no right of survivorship and flexibility in ownership percentages.

Before entering into any property arrangement, it is advisable to consult with legal professionals who can help you understand the legal implications and assist you in making the decision appropriate for your unique circumstances. Understanding the differences between joint tenants and tenants in common is essential for anyone looking to buy or hold property in Queensland.

If you require advice regarding property, contact one of our lawyers on 07 3808 7777 or business@mclaughlinlawyers.com.au.

Dominic Doan

Dominic Doan

Principal, Director

Louisa Morello

Louisa Morello