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Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common – which is the right tenancy option for you?

Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common? What’s the difference? Find out from the Butler McDermott Lawyers Property Law team’s Sunshine Coast conveyancing solicitors.

When purchasing property with another person, one of the first questions property conveyancing solicitors will ask is whether you are purchasing as joint tenants or tenants in common.

Understanding and choosing the correct tenancy option is important as it will affect what happens when one of the owners dies.

Whilst both joint tenants and tenants in common arrangements will give each person ownership rights to the property, there are essential differences and rules which govern each tenancy option under Property Law.

Joint Tenants

Where parties own property as joint tenants, under Property Law it means that:

  1. Parties have equal ownership of  the property (100% each); and
  2. a right of survivorship exists.

The right of survivorship means that when one joint tenant dies, the deceased’s share automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant and does not form part of the estate of the deceased. There is a lot of benefits to the right of survivorship, particularly for couples where they expect all their assets to transfer to their spouse on their death.

Tenants in Common

Where parties own property as tenants in common, under Property Law they own the property in percentages. Those percentages may be equal or not. For example, two people may own a property 50/50 or 60/40 or 99/1.  

Contrary to joint tenants, the right of survivorship does not exist in tenants in common arrangements. Hence, if one dies, the deceased’s interest transfers in accordance with their Will and does not (necessarily) pass to the other co-owner(s) of the property.

What works for you?

Each situation is different and you can discuss with your property conveyancing lawyers, the effect of either option.

Joint tenancy is common for married couples or couples in long-term relationships due to the right survivorship.

However, in most other cases, if you are buying with business partners, friends and/or siblings, tenants in common is usually more appropriate. It allows you clearly define what percentage of ownership each owner has. Further, if you die, your interest in the property will form part of your assets which transfer in accordance with your Will.

In some cases, there can be a mixture of both options. For example, if two couples bought an investment property together, they might own the property –

For further tenancy enquiries, feel free to contact the Sunshine Coast conveyancing solicitors from Butler McDermott Lawyers Property Law team in Nambour for a confidential discussion.

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Simone Faunt


Peter Boyce


Peter has been practising as a Nambour Solicitor since 1977 and joined Butler McDermott Lawyers the same year.

With over 40 years practicing as a Sunshine Coast lawyer, Peter has extensive knowledge of various facets of law.

He has practised in all areas of litigation and has special interests in:

  • Criminal law
  • Civil and Commercial litigation
  • Retirement Village matters
  • Sports law
  • Resumption of land and compensation claims


Peter has specialised knowledge of and experience with resumption matters as a result of the Traveston Dam project, road corridors, Main Roads and water pipeline. He is renowned for his professional approach and is an experienced and determined advocate.

Brent King


Brent works as a litigation lawyer, providing litigation legal advice in relation to both civil and criminal law matters, including:
  • Defamation Claims
  • Contract and Debt Disputes
  • Building and Construction Disputes
  • Planning Matters
  • Criminal Law and Traffic Legal Matters
Having grown up on the Sunshine Coast and joining Butler McDermott after the completion of his studies, Brent appreciates the needs of our clients, and brings a particularly commercial approach to litigation. Brent is a member of the Queensland Law Society and the Sunshine Coast Law Association, and has litigated a wide variety of matters in the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts.

Al Upton


After arriving at Butler McDermott Lawyers in 2016, Al quickly progressed to running our Wills and Estates section and has successfully litigated disputes in the Supreme and District Courts of Queensland in the early stages of his career.

In the years that followed Al has now moved to assist our clients with commercial and property matters having achieved positive outcomes in that area as well as general litigation. Al’s experience has him uniquely placed to provide quality advice in the areas of property, commercial, wills and estates and general litigation.

Al is involved in giving back to the community, sitting on the board for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and Sundale Community Foundation. He otherwise became a director of Butler McDermott Lawyers in November 2021.