Transfer of ownership: How to change property titles

Changing property ownership between spouses or other co-owners is relatively straightforward, but there are a few steps involved. Here's what you need to know.

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There are a number of reasons why people look into changing property titles' names. You might have shared ownership between high and low income earners, and you want to spread the capital gain and income tax liabilities. Or perhaps there's been a relationship breakdown, and one co-owner is transferring the property to the other.

Knowing the different types of ownership structure is important to help you work out how to transfer ownership. This guide to changing property ownership will help you determine which property ownership structure best suits you and how to move forward with a transfer of ownership.

If you need expert help navigating title changes and property ownership questions you should consider speaking to a conveyancer or solicitor. They can help you with issues related to ownership and property law.

Types of ownership structure

  • Outright ownership. You are the sole owner of the property. Your name alone is on the deed and you are responsible for the property. The property is likely to be owned in your own personal name.
  • Joint tenants. You own the property equally with someone else. Together you both have full ownership of the property. One joint tenant cannot pass their share onto another person when they die; it automatically passes instead to the other joint tenant.
  • Tenants in common. This is where 2 or more people own specified portions of the property. This can be a 50/50 split, or 70/30, or any other combination. Each owner has their own rights to their share and can sell it to others, or offer it in a will to someone else. The other tenants in common don't have an automatic right to the whole property.
  • Trust ownership. This is where the property is owned and managed by a trust, which is an entity that holds assets in trust on behalf of its beneficiaries. There are a number of trust types, although the most common 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. Profits are liable to be taxed at business tax rates, which is currently 25%, assuming the property is an investment.

Adding your partner's name to your house

Why change the property ownership?

There are many reasons people may want to change the ownership details of the property, ranging 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 and 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.

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% and 5.5%. 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 property's title as a reference for changing the details.

3. Fill out a property title transfer form. You can get this 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 New South Wales 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.

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130 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    CamJanuary 7, 2022

    My wife and I own our property with no mortgage involved. I want to sign my half of the property over to my wife. This is our place of residence and no money will be changing hands. Do we pay any stamp duty as I consider this a gift ? The property is in Queensland.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichardJanuary 10, 2022Staff

      Hi Cam,

      No stamp duty is payable on the transfer of an interest in your home to your spouse if the following criteria are met:

      – The transfer is by way of gift
      – The property is used only for residential purposes
      – The property will be equally owned by the couple following the transfer

      Please note that you may still be liable for the paperwork processing fees. It’s a good idea to contact the State Revenue Office where you live to double-check the information above.

      Cheers,
      Richard

    Default Gravatar
    JackieJanuary 3, 2022

    Hi, My husband and I have now paid out the mortgage and would like to put our house in my parents name, which is their primary residence. I have the property title. Will this incur stamp duty? And which form would I need to fill in.

    Thanks
    Jackie

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichardJanuary 11, 2022Staff

      Hi Jackie,

      Generally, changing property ownership will incur stamp duty. It is calculated based on the valuation of the land. Usually, it is between 3% and 5.5%. In some states, stamp duty can be waived. It’s worth checking with your state or territory government to see how much it will cost.

      Regards,
      Richard

    Default Gravatar
    ColleenNovember 23, 2021

    How would my incapacitated mother transfer deed/ownership to my sister with mortgage or is possible to do so.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      SarahDecember 1, 2021Staff

      Hi there,

      If your mother is incapacitated, that means she legally is not in a position to make this kind of decision.

      If she has a power of attorney in place, then that appointed person may be able to make this kind of decision on her behalf.

      If she doesn’t have a power of attorney, then her property will be dealt with in accordance to her will when she passes away. If she doesn’t have a will, then her assets enter a state known as “intestate.” When this occurs, the intestacy laws of the state or territory you live in will determine how her estate assets (including any property) will be distributed upon death.

      I hope this helps,
      Sarah

    Default Gravatar
    RavNovember 15, 2021

    Hi

    I would like to buy a property with my family (mum and brother) as our primary residence. In a few years however, my family will likely remove me from the title and mortgage (pay me out) and retain the property as their place of residence.

    Would they incur a second round of stamp duty at the time of removing me from the title (the first being at time of purchase), and aside from fees in processing, would there be any other significant costs? I understand they would likely need to refinance with the bank.

    Also – if stamp duty applies, would this be on the value of the land only or the entire property value?

    Thanks

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichardNovember 17, 2021Staff

      Hi Rav,

      In most cases, title transfer or removal may involve stamp duty regardless of whether the transfer involved money changing hands. The stamp duty to be charged will be based on the current value of the property.

      There are exemptions on a principal place of residence but probably not in cases like yours (it’s usually in cases of family breakdown).

      These rules also vary by state or territory. I suggest talking to a conveyancer or solicitor to get a clearer sense of the costs in your specific case.

      Feel free to check out our guide for removing someone’s name from a property title for more details too.

      I hope this helps!

      Regards,
      Richard

    Default Gravatar
    SearchNovember 5, 2021

    I’d like to find out more? I’d care to find
    out more details.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RichardNovember 10, 2021Staff

      Hi there!

      The regulations and forms needed in transferring property titles differ by state and territory. You can use our guide here to check out the links by state for the details.

      To get personalised advice about your situation, it is worth seeking help from a property lawyer or a licensed conveyancer.

      Regards,
      Richard

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