Property title is the legal term for the registered owner of real property. People listed on title legally own and have the right to occupy and use that property. Title can be held individually or by multiple people. Corporations can also hold title.
Title can be held as:
- Freehold: Freehold ownership means that you and anyone else on title to the property own the property and the land on which it stands. Typically, it assumes you are meeting your financial obligations, such as making the mortgage payments. Freehold ownership lasts indefinitely, as long as you hold the title. It is the most common and flexible type of ownership and permits you to design your yard and home however you please. A detached home with a mortgage is one example.
- Leasehold: By contrast, leasehold ownership gives you and joint tenants the right to use and occupy the land or dwelling, but not actually own it. Leasehold agreements normally have a fixed term. Once the term expires, unless other arrangements are made, use and possession of the land returns to the original owner. Some townhouses, apartments and land are leaseholds.
- Life estate ownership: Life estate ownership is rare and gives you legal ownership of a property during your lifetime. It expires when you die. Title then reverts to the original owner or if specified, another party.
Things to Consider
If you co-own a property with someone else, should you hold title as joint tenants or tenants in common? Review some of the pros and cons of each option here.