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Buying Property Together

Buying a property together: what should we look out for?

By Michael Commins – Solicitor, Commercial and Residential Property

23 September 2016

If you’re thinking of buying a property with one or more other people, there are some important matters to consider as part of the purchasing process.

In New South Wales, when two or more people decided to buy a property together, it’s usually held in both – or all – names as either tenants-in-common or as joint tenants. You will need to specify which of these arrangements will apply on your Contract and in your transfer document.

It’s important for you to discuss these options with your co-owners and with your lawyer. Here at Commins Hendriks, we have an experienced commercial and residential Property team who can guide you through this process and explain the different forms of ownership.

Joint Tenants

Under this arrangement, the owners own the entire property together with no specific shares allocated to any individual.

This can have several implications if one of the joint tenants dies. If that occurs, his or her interest in the property automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant/s. Generally, this is straightforward and in accordance with the wishes of both parties.

However, it’s important to understand that a joint tenant cannot dispose of his or her interest in the property by Will. The right of survivorship is not overridden by instructions in a Will.

If one or both joint tenants wish their interest in the property to go to someone other than the surviving joint tenant when they die, they must legally sever the joint tenancy during their lifetime.

Your solicitor can assist you with this if required.


As tenants-in-common, the purchasers share ownership in the property in whatever proportions upon which they’ve reached agreement. This could be 50% each, or they might own unequal shares.

It’s a flexible arrangement which caters for different or changing circumstances, such as unequal contributions to the purchase price or ownership expenses, a relationship breakdown, or the wish by one or more parties to leave their share to other people in their Will.

Subject to any contractual agreement between the parties, as a tenant-in-common you can dispose of your interest in the property as you see fit.

If a tenant-in-common dies, his or her share becomes part of his or her estate and passes in accordance with the Will or, if there’s no Will, in accordance with laws regarding intestacy.

We encourage you to have an up-to-date Will that includes who’s to receive your tenant-in-common interest, which can help reduced the uncertainty for the surviving owner/s.

If you have any questions, please contact us to book an appointment on 1800 643 779.