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Types of Residential Real Estate Ownership:
How to Take Title on a Purchase

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In Ontario (aside from sole ownership) there are four basic ways for two or more individuals to own real estate. Each person involved in ownership in the transaction should obtain his or her own independent legal advice as to method of ownership and potential liability as an owner.


Under this type of ownership, each owner owns equally. Joint Tenancy typically means that, should a purchaser become deceased, the remaining purchaser(s) on title will inherit the deceased's interest in the property. Where one of the “joint tenants” dies, the surviving joint tenant(s) usually automatically becomes the owner(s) of the property no matter what a will might state. This is the manner of holding title most commonly used by spouses.


Under this type of ownership each owner’s share can be different (e.g. John owns 90% and Jim owns 10%). Tenancy in Common means that should a purchaser become deceased, that deceased person's interest in the real estate will be transferred according to that person's will or, if no will exists, according to the Law of Ontario (if the real estate is in Ontario).


A trust situation should be discussed with a lawyer. It generally signifies that the person who is registered on title in the Ontario Land Registry Office is not the true, or beneficial, owner.


It does not usually indicate (but it can) on the face of the document who is, in fact, the real owner (the beneficial owner).


If more than one person will be shown on title as owner and, if only one person is providing all (or a substantial portion) of the funds needed for the purchase, you may wish to consider entering into a special partnership agreement to avoid any future misunderstanding with respect to distribution of proceeds upon a resale of the property. Should you wish such an agreement to be prepared for signature when you sign final closing documents, please inform this office. Our fee for such a typical agreement is $50.00. One of the features of such an agreement is to return to each purchaser whatever cash was originally contributed by each purchaser at the time of completing the transaction as well as any additional contributions made to improving the property during the period of ownership (such as, new roof, finishing basement, remodelling kitchen, new floorings, addition to house, etc.). Other features of the agreement deal with distribution of the balance of proceeds once the property is eventually resold and what happens if one partner wishes to sell and the other partner does not. Each partner should consider obtaining independent legal advice PRIOR TO entering into a partnership agreement.


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