Joint ownership in Singapore and unequal contributions to purchase price
Whether one lives in a HDB flat or landed property, it is common for joint home owners, most usually husband and wife, to hold property jointly in both of their names. But what happens if one party contributes way more to the purchase price than the other? Would it be fair to adhere strictly to the rules of co-ownership under such circumstances?
In a joint tenancy, co-owners are individually “wholly entitled to the whole” of the property. Strange as it sounds, it means that, for instance, the husband owns 100% and the wife also owns 100%. It also means that, both co-owners possess a right of survivorship. Upon the death of one party, the surviving co-owner inherits the whole of the property.
Things get complicated if co-owners provide unequal contribution to the purchase price of the property. In the event of a dispute over ownership share, can the party who contributed more, claim more?
In Singapore, the highest court of the land has implemented the following two-stage test.
Firstly, the court has to determine if the presumption of resulting trust arose. This means that the party who contributed more would have to adduce evidence, such as transaction records, or CPF payments, that he or she, indeed paid more. If so, a resulting trust would be presumed, whereby the parties would be presumed to hold the property in the ratio corresponding to their contribution.
However, even after the court has ascertained the existence of such a presumption, it can still be rebutted, either by contrary evidence, or the presumption of advancement.
Contrary evidence could include recorded agreements by the co-owners, to hold the property jointly in equal shares, despite unequal contributions. The presumption of advancement (or the presumption of gift) arises when the parties are involved in a familial relationship, and if such relations exist, the law presumes that the parties intended any excess contributions to be a “gift”, and that parties intended to hold the property jointly and equally. Such relationships may include husband and wife, or even parent and child. Much would depend on the strength and nature of the relationship.
As can be seen from the above, just because there are two names on the registry, does not mean that joint ownership will be interpreted inflexibly. Other factors will be taken into consideration. But do note that the law is liable to change, and the above does not constitute legal advice, and may not even be relevant to your specific circumstance.
To make absolutely sure, we suggest that you gather legal advice from a qualified lawyer.
- What if the seller does not turn up for the First Appointment?
- Joint ownership in Singapore and unequal contributions to purchase price
- Caveats and Home Ownership in Singapore
- Types of property and home ownership in Singapore
- What are the duties of an estate agent in Singapore?
- The Conveyancing Process in Singapore
- Selling Property as a Tenant in Common
- Getting a Mortgage Redemption in Singapore
- Buying a Property on Trust for Your Child
- Transfer of Property in Singapore
- Buying Property in Singapore: How to Pay for Your Property
- Refinancing Your Home Loan
- Common Terms in Sale & Purchase Agreements
- Decoupling to Beat the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty
- Converting a Joint Tenancy to a Tenancy-in-Common
- How Can I Buy My Co-Owner’s Share of the Property?
- Purchasing a Property on an “As Is Where Is” Basis: What Does it Mean?
- The Essential Guide to Buyer’s Stamp Duties in Singapore
- Option to Purchase: 6 Things to Know Before Exercising It
- HDB Resale Process: Selling Your HDB Flat Without an Agent
- Property Auction: How to Buy a House in Distressed Sales and More
- What If I Have a Tenancy Dispute or Complaint in Singapore?
- Tenant-Landlord Rights in Singapore
- Dispute With Your Condo’s Management or MCST: What to Do
- Are Landlords, Tenants, and Agents Liable for Sex Trade in HDB flats/Condominiums?
- 6 Common Terms in Tenancy Agreements & What They Mean
- Is Airbnb Illegal in Singapore?
- Landlord Won’t Return Your Security Deposit: What to Do
- Applying for a Writ of Distress When a Singapore Tenant Owes You Rent
- Landlord’s Guide to Evicting a Problematic Tenant in Singapore