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Title and ownership of property

Home ownership is a dream for many people living in Canada.

When the dream is close enough to be realized, there is often an overload of information being thrown at prospective home owners. One of the most important things a homeowner should be aware of is what they get when they buy a property.

Not only are the buyers the new owners of the property but they hold legal title to it as well.

Title means you are the registered owner of property. If you go to a land registry office after the property has been transferred to you and you look up title to the property, you will find your name on it. You will also see who owned it before you.

Land is registered by ownership through provincial/territorial laws and government agencies in most cases.

In most provinces and territories, land titles are now registered through a parcel based land registry system which uses a personal identification number to identify your property in the land titles system.

A certificate for registered ownership is issued to the new homeowner after he or she buys the property. Transfer of a property from a seller to a buyer is also called a closing. So, once the property has closed then you as the buyer are the new owner.

When deciding to buy a new house or condominium and if more than one person is buying the property, the parties have to decide how to take title to the property.

There are two main ways:

Joint tenants

Just as the name suggests, joint tenants hold the land jointly. Meaning there is no divisible interest in the land. They hold, together, 100% of the ownership of the land - unless they have an arrangement to be tenants-in-common with someone else while they are still joint tenants.

If one joint tenant passes away, then the other joint tenant has the “right of survivorship.” This means the joint owner loses his interest in the property to the living joint owner who now acquires all of the deceased’s interest in the property.

Tenants-in-common

This type of title ownership means the tenants-in-common acquire a divisible interest in the property. For example, if two people decide to buy a house and each want equal interest in the house but not for joint ownership purposes, then each would hold 50% of the property interest. That is their ownership interest apart from the other owner and there is no “right of survivorship” in this case.

If one of the parties passes away, then the surviving parties’ interest doesn’t automatically go to the other tenant-in-common. Rather the property interest will be handled through a legal will, or if the person died without a will, then it’s likely a court of law will decide who gets that property interest.

Whether you are buying or selling property, you have to hire a real-estate lawyer to handle the transaction, and title questions and issues. Should you have questions before buying or selling a property, you should consult a real estate lawyer.

Read more:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Joint Tenants or Tenants-in-Common

Joint Tenancy

What is Land Titles?