When buying a home, one of the most important legal steps is for your lawyer to ensure who holds title to the property. This title verification is often done by way of a title search, and can be certified by a document known as the State of Title Certificate, which is simply a certified copy of the title search. In short, property ownership, whether commercial or residential, can be proven by a title or a state of title certificate. A real estate lawyer can confirm legal ownership by conducting a title search on your behalf so that the registered owner is consistent with the name of the seller on any contract of purchase and sale for that property. Sometimes the legal name on a title search may not always correspond with that owner having beneficial ownership of the property, such as in the care of a bare trust relationship, but that is beyond the scope of this article and you should obtain independent legal advice on this issue if you have any concerns.
What Is a Title?
A title shows the legal rights of ownership of real property consisting of land and buildings on the property. In simple terms, having title often provides the title holder with a bundle of rights, including:
Conveyance rights: This refers to the transfer of title or ownership of property from one person (the seller) to another (the buyer).
Disposition or collateral rights: The title holder often has a right to refinance, gift or transfer ownership of their property to someone else.
Exclusive use: The property owner is often entitled to utilize, occupy and enjoy the property or to allow others to do the same.
Types of Title
A title can be held by one or several persons. A single owner will hold sole title. However, multiple owners who hold title to the same real property can be categorized as either joint tenancy or tenancy in common.
Joint tenancy refers to two or more individuals who hold an equal percentage of interest in a property. Their title rights are equally shared. If an owner dies, the property in many cases, will transfer to the surviving joint owners.
Tenancy in common
Tenancy in common allows two or more people to hold equal or unequal percentages of legal ownership in a property. If one tenant in common owner dies, that share passes in accordance with the deceased’s Will or under the laws of intestacy if there is no Will, rather than automatically to the other surviving owner.
A real estate lawyer can advise you on your property ownership rights and discuss with you some of your options to hold title. Remember, title can be a complicated legal issue and the name you see registered on a title search may not always equate to that individual or company actually holding the beneficial ownership of that particular property, such as in the case of a trust relationship that may not be visible in a title search. Accordingly, if you have questions or concerns about title, it is best that you consult with a legal professional to examine title on a case by case basis since each set of circumstances behind title ownership are unique.
What Is a State of Title Certificate?
A state of title certificate is a certified copy of the title usually issued by the province or the land title office. This legal document identifies the legal owner of that property. The certificate lists key identifiers, including the property’s legal description and parcel identifying number (PID), the legal owner(s) name and mailing address, and any outstanding liens or encumbrances.
Real Estate Lawyer in Richmond, BC
Bernard Lau and Co. would be happy to provide legal advice on real estate law or if you have any questions about title ownership.