If you own or wish to purchase property with another person or group of people, there are two common types of land ownership that are possible. The one you, as a purchaser, choose has a significant impact upon your rights in relation to the property.
Tenancy in common means that there are two or more owners of a piece of land, each of whom owns some percentage of the land. For example, if there are two owners, then each may own 50% of the property, though the proportion need not be equal. Under this form of land ownership, each owner will maintain a separate ownership interest.
If it is not specified on the transfer document, ownership of real property is presumed to be tenancy in common, according to the Alberta Law of Property Act section 8.
Joint tenancy is the situation where there are two or more owners of a piece of land and each owner owns 100% of the property. Each owner has identical ownership interests in the property.
To maintain a joint tenancy, there must be four requirements between the owners. The transfer of property must occur under the same legal instrument, the interest of each joint tenant must be identical in nature and duration, each joint tenant must have undivided possession of the entire property, and the interest of each joint tenant must take effect at the same time.
The most significant difference between the forms of ownership is the right of survivorship. Under joint tenancy, when one owner dies, the other owner(s) assume the deceased’s share so that each living owner owns 100% of the property.
Under tenancy in common there is no right of survivorship, meaning that when an owner dies, their interest in the property forms part of their estate to be divided in their will. Surviving owners do not automatically gain the interest of the deceased upon the passing of that tenant in common.