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Understanding the different types of Home Ownership

Understanding the different types of Home Ownership

  • 25 April 2018
  • Hin Tat Augustine & Partners

Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common?

When purchasing a property with another party, you will be asked if you wish to do so as Joint Tenants or Tenants-in-Common. This is an important decision as it defines the right of ownership or possession of the property should your co-owner pass away.

Joint Tenants

If you choose to hold the property as Joint Tenants, your co-owner(s) and you will own the whole property without separate interests. Each Joint Tenant will own an identical interest in the whole property without any distinct shares, and all parties will have identical rights of possession over the property.

There are two important things to note. First, when you hold a property as Joint Tenants, the right of survivorship will apply. This means that upon the passing of a Joint Tenant, his or her interest in the property will immediately pass onto the surviving Joint Tenant(s) and will not fall to the deceased person’s Estate.

Second, a Joint Tenancy may be converted into a Tenancy-in-Common if it is severed or broken. Do note that any Joint Tenant may sever a Joint Tenancy without the other’s consent.

Once a Joint Tenancy has been severed, all parties will hold the property as Tenants-in-Common instead. Each will hold equal shares of 50% if there are 2 parties.


If you choose to hold the property as Tenants-in-Common, your co-owner(s) and you can own the property either in equal or unequal shares. You may also have more than one related or unrelated co-owner (e.g. you may purchase a property with your spouse, friends, or business partners). The percentage of shareholding will be decided by your co-owner(s) and you.

Let’s say you, your spouse, and a friend (let’s call him “Tom”) decide to purchase a property together. Unlike a Joint Tenancy which gives you identical rights, as Tenants-in-Common you could choose an ownership structure where you hold 50% ownership, your spouse holds 30% ownership and Tom holds 20% ownership of the property.

Tenants-in-Common also have the right of possession of the whole of the property. Although they are held in percentages, each co-owner does not own specific portions of the property and cannot exclude each other from the property.

It is important to note that there is no right of survivorship when you hold a property as Tenants-in-Common. This means that should a Tenant-in-Common pass away, his interest in the property will be distributed according to his Will or by the laws of intestacy if there is no Will.


The above definitions do not apply to Muslim persons who are governed by Syariah Law in Singapore.


The information provided herein has been provided by third party source(s) and is for general information only. It does not take into account the specific investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any particular person, and does not constitute an offer or solicitation by OCBC Bank to provide loan or financing to any particular person or to enter into a transaction. You rely on the content herein at your own risk.

No representation or warranty whatsoever in respect of any information provided herein is given by OCBC Bank. All information presented is subject to change without notice. OCBC Bank shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising directly or indirectly howsoever in connection with or as a result of any person acting on any information provided herein. Any reference to any specific entity, authority, area, figures, property or asset class in whatever way is used for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation on the same.