Guide to changing property ownership

A step-by-step guide to changing property ownership

Because property is likely to be the most valuable asset you ever own, it's important your ownership structure is right.

A property ownership structure describes the way the property is owned. Is it owned by one person, a group of people or jointly by husband and wife? When it comes time to sell the asset, these considerations are important.

If it’s a shared property, you could put the property in the highest income earner’s name to maximise gearing benefits. Or you could share ownership between high and low income earners to spread the capital gain and income tax liabilities.

Knowing the options that are available to you is important. Your personal situation can often change in life, and so will your investment needs. You may have a relationship breakdown, you might start a property business or you may just want the benefit of tax savings. This guide to changing property ownership will help you determine which property ownership structure best suits you.

Adding your partner's name to your house

Types of ownership structure

  • Outright ownership. In this structure you are the sole owner. Your name alone is on the deed and are responsible for the property.
  • Joint ownership. Here you own the property equally with someone else. This shouldn’t be confused with “owners/tenants in common” where owners can have a different size share in the property.
  • Trust ownership. This is where the property is owned and managed by a trust or another figure. A trust is an entity which holds assets in trust on behalf of its beneficiaries. There are a number of trust types around, although the most commonly seen are family trusts. These are useful for when property is being left to younger family members.
  • Company ownership. You can also own property through a company. This isn’t the best setup for the small investor, because profits are taken up by business taxes and income tax should you wish to take a wage from the investment. On the other hand, it could be beneficial if the owner’s tax rate is over 30% because the company will pay less tax. This all assumes it is an investment property and not the owner’s principle place of residency, in which case the owner would not pay any capital gains tax on a sale.

Why change the property ownership?

There are many reasons people may want to change the ownership details of the property they range from a change in circumstance or situation all the way to gifting to a family member or inheritance. Below is a list of the most common reasons people have for changing property ownership:

  • Divorce. When you purchase a property as part of a relationship and that relationship breaks down you will want to make changes to the details of ownership.
  • Change ownership structure. You may have originally chosen an ownership structure that no longer is relevant for you and anyone you may own the property with.
  • Family reasons. The owner of the property may have become quite ill or unable to properly look after their own affairs in order, they have decided to pass the property onto a family member or the owner may have died. All these situations would require that the family make changes to the ownership.
  • Change in circumstance. A property may have been purchased with the assistance of a friend or family member or as a joint purchase and now there has been a change in financial circumstance that allows one owner to buy the other out.

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If you don't feel confident going through the steps explained in this guide, speak to an expert who can help you through the process.

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Costs of changing ownership

  • Stamp duty. Changing property ownership will incur stamp duty, which will be calculated based on the valuation of the land. Usually it is between 3 - 5.5 per cent. In some states like Victoria, stamp duty can be waived. Find out more here.
  • Capital gains tax (CGT). Selling or transferring ownership may incur a CGT. If the sale involves an investment property, then the seller will need to pay CGT. As a general rule, it is 25% of the capital gain. Read more about Capital Gains Tax
  • Fees. When you sell or transfer the title of a property, you change the conditions of the mortgage, which may incur break fees. If you require a lawyer, there may also be legal fees and valuation fees.

Steps involved in changing property ownership

There are a few steps involved in changing the ownership details of a property and these vary depending on the type of property ownership, how you are changing it and whether it is under a mortgage. Below are some of the key steps involved.

1. Check the mortgage. If the property still has a home loan attached to it you will need to have the details of this on hand as they may also need to be adjusted depending on your reason for making a change to the property ownership.

2. Get a copy of the property title. You can contact your local state office that looks after land titles for a copy of the properties title as a reference for changing the details.

3. Fill out a property title transfer form. This can be gotten from your government agency that looks after land titles for the form/s required to change the property ownership. You can also ask them for instructions on how to properly fill this out, alternatively if you are in NSW read our guide here.

4. Submit the title transfer form. Once you have completed the form with all relevant details you will need to submit it to your local state government land office that looks after property titles.

5. Pay the relevant fee. Any change of title or adjustment to property ownership will incur a fee to be paid to the relevant state government office.

6. Wait for the processing of the form. The relevant agency will then process the form and if all is well will make the relevant adjustments to the ownership details held by the state.

If you have a mortgage still attached to the property you will need to notify your bank of the change to property ownership and they may ask you to alter your loan documents to match the property title details.

Beware of tax legislation

There are anti-tax avoidance rules that state you must have a valid reason for transferring the title of a property apart from tax benefits. Be sure you know your reason and be certain to document it.

Property Investor? Learn how to maximise your tax return

For more on changing ownership, check out this guide by finance expert Stuart Wemyss

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98 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JoanOctober 18, 2017

    How can I go about getting my name off the title of a house I own with 2 other siblings? I don’t want to sell my third with them; I just want out!

    • Staff
      JudithOctober 18, 2017Staff

      Hi Joan,

      Thanks for contacting finder, a comparison website and general information service.

      I understand your concern. You may check this page for a guide on how to remove a name from a property title.

      I hope this helps.

      Best regards,
      Judith

  2. Default Gravatar
    RebeccaSeptember 11, 2017

    If I have a property in my name ( not living in but family are living in it) and I have a mortgage on the property I currently live in now…what would be involved to transfer my name off the property family live in to them? and costs involved etc

    • Staff
      JoanneSeptember 11, 2017Staff

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for reaching out.
      The process of removing someone’s name from the property title depends on which state or territory your property is located. But generally, to start with, you’ll need to fill out a relevant transfer form that can be obtained from your state government department’s website.
      You’d also be best to utilise the services of a conveyancer so you’ll be guided properly with the process and the fees involved.

      The cost of changing the details of a property title differ depending on the state or territory the property is located in so please contact them directly to get the full list of fees and charges.
      You may also want to visit this link to get additional information.

      Cheers,
      Joanne

  3. Default Gravatar
    FayJune 28, 2017

    I have 2 parcels of land adjoining each other. As I have 2 separate deeds for the properties can I sell one parcel and not the other?

    • Staff
      JonathanJune 29, 2017Staff

      Hi Fay!

      Thanks for the inquiry!

      If you have two established parcels of land and were conveyed as two deeds, then yes it can be sold separately, provided there are no local restrictions in place.

      An attorney or title company can help you with the sale.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  4. Default Gravatar
    janetteJune 7, 2017

    We sold block land five years ago and just found that we still own the land. Because they didn’t do there transfer is legal for them to do there transfer now after fives

    • Staff
      MayJune 8, 2017Staff

      Hi Janette,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, if the selling of the land before was settled legally, without a problem and the documents as proof of the sale are intact. The buyer of your property would just need to fill out a relevant transfer form that can be obtained from the state government department’s website where the property is located. Please see the list if states in the blue box on this page, from there click the name of the state to be redirected to the local state’s main website.

      It would also be best for them to utilise the services of a conveyancer to be guided properly with the process and be familiarised with the fees involved.

      Cheers,
      May

  5. Default Gravatar
    SteveJune 4, 2017

    A husband and wife jointly own a house in NSW. Husband wants to either transfer some or all of the property to his wife so she is either the majority or sole owner. The house was a primary residence, had been rented and couple lived abroad. But the property has not yet been rented for the past six years. Is there any stamp duty or CGT to be paid by his wife?

    • Staff
      JonathanJune 4, 2017Staff

      Hi Steve!

      Thanks for the comment.

      Stamp duty is often payable once there’s a transfer of property that took place. However, some state policies may give exemptions. You may find more information about it here. As for Capital Gains Tax, if they moved out of their home and has chosen to rent it out, even if there were no renters, under the law it may be still be considered as their primary residence for period of up to 6 years, which may qualify for exemption. You may want to read our CGT review on this page.

      Alternatively, you can seek professional advice on this matter, as some circumstances, local policies and other details may affect exemptions.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  6. Default Gravatar
    paulApril 25, 2017

    On behalf of a friend I would like to know her father co owns a property in Perth that he is wanting to sell at present she looking to buy at present her loan capabilities are falling short mainly because of added stamp duty I was wondering about the possibilities regarding her buying out the present partner her father has and how that would affect the stamp duty situation if her father retained his part of the house or some part of it?

    • Staff
      HaroldMay 4, 2017Staff

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Each lender has their own approval and eligibility criteria for a home loan it would be best to contact a mortgage broker to discuss your lending needs and in-kind your borrowing options.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  7. Default Gravatar
    annaNovember 21, 2016

    my father has passed and left his property to his 3 children
    2 of the children wish to pay out the third and become joint owners how does this work with stamp duty and registration expenses

    • Staff
      AnndyNovember 21, 2016Staff

      Hi Anna,

      Thanks for reaching out. Please note that finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service that helps customers make better decisions. However, we can’t give expert advice when it comes to changing the details of your property deed.

      Each state and county have different processes and fees relating to changing the property deed. You may want to reach out to the local government agency that handles property titles and deeds to discuss the process and fees involved.

      You may also want to speak to a property tax specialist who can help with matters of stamp duty and capital gains tax. You can do so by completing the form above.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  8. Default Gravatar
    veronicaNovember 7, 2016

    my husband and I got divorce the home was granted to me how do I go about changing the title of my house to my name. my divorce deed states that it was granted to me.

    • Staff
      AnndyNovember 8, 2016Staff

      Hi Veronica,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service that helps users make better decisions. We are not experts when it comes to changing the details of your property deed.

      Each state has different processes relating to changing the property deed. It would be best to reach out to the local government agency that handles property titles to discuss the process in relation to making this change.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  9. Default Gravatar
    GaiAugust 22, 2016

    Hi, My Mother died recently and left her property to me. I want to keep the house as an investment. Mum had a small mortgage on the property and I am in the process of taking out my own loan in order to pay out what she owed. The loan officer wants a “Copy of Transfer of Mortgage into my name” before they will proceed with my loan. I don’t understand what that actually is. Do I need to go to my mother’s bank to have her mortgage changed into my name?

    • Staff
      MayAugust 24, 2016Staff

      Hi Gai,

      Thank you for your question. You’ve come through to finder.com.au – we are a financial comparison website and general information service, we are not mortgage experts, so we can only offer general advice.

      Basically, yes, since the property is on a mortgage, you will need your mother’s lender consent to have her name removed from the property title, which may also involve getting new mortgage documents drafted out.

      In the process of having your mother’s name removed from the title after getting consent from the lender (or bank), you can start by filling out a relevant transfer form which can be obtained from your local state land department’s website. You can check the list from this page (in the blue box).

      Though this procedure can be done by yourself, it’s still best to seek out the services of a conveyancer who can assist you with the whole process and explain the fees that may be involved.

      After having done all this, you can then proceed with your home loan application.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      May

  10. Default Gravatar
    ElizabethAugust 10, 2016

    How much will it cost my dad to get his name on the title of the house that my aunt left to him in her will?

    • Staff
      MayAugust 10, 2016Staff

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Basically, a title transfer normally involves adding or removal a name from the title deed which can be completed by filling out a transfer of title form, which you can access from your state government website.

      You can find the possible costs that your father may have to pay in putting his name on the property title on this page. Aside from fees, he may also have to pay stamp duty, usually between 3%-5.5% and capital gains tax. Though in some states, stamp duty will be waived so it’s best to check with your State Office of Revenue to see if your father can realise an exemption.

      Furthermore, you may like to read our guide on how to minimise costs when transferring property within the family, which you might find helpful.

      Hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      May

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