There are several forms of ownership which property owners can hold vesting title to their real property. One of the forms of holding title is Joint Tenants.
Prior to the popularity of family trusts, families used joint tenancy as a form of estate planning to transfer the real property from one generation to the next without triggering a reassessment to protect the Proposition 13 factored base year value.
Joint Tenancies are co-ownership interest in real property. A Joint Tenancy must include the four unities:
- Unity of interest: The interest of each owner is equal.
- Unity of time: The interest of the owners is acquired at the same time.
- Unity of possession: The owners have the right of survivorship.
- Unity of title: The document must specify a joint tenancy vesting. (If a vesting is not specified, it is presumed to be a tenancy in common.)
When joint tenants acquire a real property, there is a change in ownership unless there are applicable exclusions.
Joint tenants who add another joint tenant to the ownership of the property does not trigger a reassessment because the original joint tenants are still on title. This is a creation of joint tenancy where the original transferors are still on title. The added joint tenant is the other than original transferor.
When the other than original transferor is removed from the joint tenancy, this is a reversion back to the original transferors. This reversion does not trigger a reassessment.
Joint tenancy is a form of ownership where individual co-owner real property. Therefore, a trust or a legal entity cannot be joint tenants or joint tenants with individuals. The vesting can only be tenants in common.
When recording the Grant Deed, Quitclaim deed, Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant or Affidavit of Death of Trustee, complete the Preliminary Change of Ownership report, section A which provides additional information to the assessor for the type of transfer.
Please contact the San Francisco Assessor’s Office at 415-554-5596 and ask for the Transaction Unit Staff on Duty.