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".
For a joint tenancy, all the joint tenants are treated as one sole owner. In other words, the interests or shares of ownership of the joint tenants are equal. When one of the joint tenants dies, his/her interest will automatically pass to the surviving joint tenant who will own the whole property.
For tenancy-in-common, the interests of all the tenants-in-common are 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.
- Joint tenancy