Many British Columbians are currently at home due to self-isolation, mandatory quarantine or lay offs and in search of projects to pass the time. Believe it or not, there are a number of projects related to your legal affairs that you can tackle from the comfort of your own home. This is one in a series of three articles covering potential at-home projects related to your legal affairs. In this article, we will focus on projects related to real estate.
If you purchased real estate with one or more other people, you may want to review how title is held (ie. the relationship between the owners and their respective shares in the property).
When two or more people purchase property together they must consider the nature of the relationship between the owners as well as the amount of each owner’s proportionate share in the property.
- Nature of the Relationship: One of the key considerations is whether the property owners wish to hold title as “joint tenants” or as “tenants in common”. The key difference between the two is that joint tenancy includes the right of survivorship, whereas tenancy in common does not. The right of survivorship means that the interest held between the joint tenants would flow to the survivor on the death of a registered owner. For more information about the differences between joint tenancy and tenancy in common, please see our blog “Joint Tenancy vs Tenancy in Common – What you need to know when purchasing a home” which can be found here: http://touchstonelawgroup.com/kelowna-lawyers/joint-tenancy-vs-tenancy-common-need-know-purchasing-home/
- Proportionate Shares: Co-owners can own property as equal 50:50 owners, 1:99 owners, or anything in between. Please note that as joint tenants, the owners must hold equal interests whereas with tenancy in common, the title can be split into any percentages (provided that they add up to 100% of course).
Now is a great time to review how your title is held! Consider:
- Did you purchase the property holding title as 99% and 1% owners as tenants in common to maximize one purchaser’s eligibility for a property transfer tax first time homebuyer grant exemption? If it has been more than 1 year since the date of your purchase, you may want to transfer the property into joint tenancy.
- Did your parent (or another party) go on title as an owner at the request of your lender for financing purposes? If your lender is now comfortable with your creditworthiness, you may want to remove the other party from title (for tax planning, estate planning, or other reasons).
- Have you entered into a marriage or common law relationship since purchasing the property? If so, you may want to add them on title for estate planning or other reasons.
- Have you purchased property since preparing your will/estate plan? If so, it may be worth reviewing both how you own title and your estate plan. For estate planning considerations, please see our blog “COVID-19 At Home Project Ideas – Wills and Estates” which can be found here: http://touchstonelawgroup.com/kelowna-lawyers/covid-19-home-project-ideas-wills-estates/
- Do you own property in trust for the benefit of someone else for privacy or other purposes? Please note that the government of British Columbia is in the process of enacting the Land Owner Transparency Act which will require that beneficial owners be named in a public registry. Accordingly, you may wish to review and revise your current trust and/or ownership structure.
If you have a mortgage (or are considering getting one) now may be a good time to consider refinancing your property.
Depending on your circumstances and current mortgage terms, if any, you may want to contact a licenced mortgage broker to crunch the numbers and determine if now is a good time for you to refinance your property. There are many factors to consider including interest rates, mortgage terms, prepayment penalties, if any, and the value of your property so it is important to work with a professional mortgage broker. If you need a referral to a mortgage broker, please let us know. We are happy to provide assistance and answer any questions that you may have on the legal side.
For more information about the projects discussed above or our payment plan, please feel free to reach out to one of our knowledgeable and helpful lawyers.
Author: Danielle (Dani) Brito
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of real estate at the following:
Una Gabie: firstname.lastname@example.org