When it comes to homeownership in Ontario, there are two ways to own property with at least one other person – as joint tenants or tenants in common. Here’s a look at the key differences between the two and what you need to know before you buy.

What is joint tenancy?

Joint tenancy is a form of co-ownership where all parties involved have equal ownership rights to a property. In joint tenancy, the property cannot be willed to anyone else upon the death of a joint tenant, as their ownership share is automatically transferred to the remaining joint tenants. This is known as the “right of survivorship.” As a result, this form of ownership is most common amongst family members and spouses and may be used as a tool to avoid probate, thereby saving time and money when overseeing an estate. It is important to note that it is not possible for joint tenants to transfer their individual shares without dissolving the joint tenancy entirely. Understanding the rights and limitations of joint tenancy can help ensure smooth ownership transitions in the event of a joint tenant’s death.

Survivorship Application

In Ontario, surviving tenants can retain a lawyer to file a survivorship application with the Land Registry Office to officially transfer ownership after the death of a joint tenant.

What is tenancy in common?

Tenancy in common is another type of co-ownership arrangement in Ontario. Each owner has their own distinct share of the property and can sell or transfer it without the consent of the other tenants in common. In the event of death, tenants in common also have the right to leave their share of the property to a designated beneficiary, typically through their will.

While tenants in common can be beneficial for those looking to purchase a property with others, it is important to carefully consider all potential risks and complications before making any decisions. For example, tenants in common are equally responsible for any obligations related to the property and each have a right to occupy the entire property, regardless of the unequal ownership shares in the property. As such, it is important for tenants in common to have a written agreement outlining each owner’s rights and responsibilities regarding the property – including, mortgage obligations, property taxes, maintenance, etc.

Severing a Joint Tenancy into a Tenancy in Common

In Ontario, it is possible for a joint tenancy to be severed and turned into a tenancy in common. It is important to note that severing a joint tenancy can have legal and financial implications, and it is wise to seek professional advice before making this decision.

One of the owners can unilaterally decide that they want to dissolve the joint tenancy by transferring their share of the property to themselves, or conversely selling their shares. Joint owners can also mutually agree to severe the joint tenancy, and enter a written agreement that designates the ownership of the asset as a tenancy in common.

Joint tenancy agreements are usually severed and turned into tenancy in common agreements when a married couple decides to separate or divorce, as this can greatly facilitate the separation process.

When purchasing property with another in Ontario, it is important to consider the type of ownership structure that best suits your circumstances. Each form of co-ownership has its advantages and disadvantages. Consulting a legal professional is advisable to ensure that you choose the best type of co-ownership for your situation and avoid any costly mistakes.

At simplyclose, our experienced real estate lawyers can help you plan your transactions. We take the time to walk you through your options and ensure you are fully informed and comfortable with your choices. For more information, please contact our office at 519-997-3775 or [email protected]. Our real estate lawyers and closing specialists are always available to help.


simplyclose is on a mission to make real estate closings as simple and seamless as possible. We leverage our proprietary closing software to make each transaction frictionless. Our lawyers and team of dedicated closing specialist accommodate you throughout each step of the process. Provide your documents through our secure online portal. You can sign your legal documents online through our video conference platform or drop into our office at 61 Richmond Street, Amherstburg, Ontario N9V 1G1. We provide real estate legal services to Windsor-Essex County and all across Ontario.


Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  This website contains links to other third-party websites.  Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; simplyclose does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites. Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. 

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