2. What are the different ways of owning a property? What is sole ownership and what are joint tenants and tenants-in-common?
The different ways of owning a property in Hong Kong are sole ownership and joint ownership. Ask your solicitor for more information about joint ownership if you plan to buy a flat with other persons.
a. Sole ownership
Sole ownership refers to a property owned by one person only and that person is the sole owner of the property.
b. Joint ownership
If a couple who are either married or living together purchase a property in which they intend to live, they usually intend to share the ownership of the property. The most common types of joint ownership are "joint tenancy" and "tenancy-in-common".
i. Joint tenancy
For a joint tenancy, all the joint tenants are treated as one sole owner. When one of the joint tenants dies, his/her interest in the property will automatically pass to the surviving joint tenant(s) who will own the whole property.
For tenancy-in-common, the interests of all the tenants-in-common are normally proportional to their respective contributions to the purchase price of the property. In a tenancy-in-common with 2 owners, for example, the owner who contributed 25% of the purchase price would hold 1/4 share of ownership. The other owner, who contributed 75% of the purchase price, would hold 3/4 share of ownership. When one of the tenants-in-common dies, his/her interest will form part of his/her estate (i.e. property left after a person's death), and will be passed on according to the terms of his/her will or the law of intestacy if there is no will.