Understanding Different Forms of Residential Real Estate Ownership in New Jersey

Photos by Randen Pederson

In New Jersey, purchasers of real property have different forms of ownership options. There is significance in which option is selected because it will affect multiple things, specifically, the purchasers right to sell the property or leave the property to heirs.

In the case of residential real estate, it is important that all purchasers determine the most appropriate and advantageous form of ownership as either a sole owner, or co-owner.

Sole ownership, as its name implies, is when title is held by one owner. Advantages to being an individual owner include the avoidance of any type of conflict that would arise between multiple owners, as well as the ease in which real property can be transferred and disposed.

Regarding co-ownership, New Jersey recognizes three forms; Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship; Tenancy in common (Tenants in Common); Tenancy by the entirety (Tenancy by the Entirety).

Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship

A joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (commonly referred to as joint tenancy) gives two or more persons an equal and undivided right to use and possess real property. This is most commonly used when individuals who are not married would like rights of survivorship.

Tenants in Common

A tenancy in common gives two or more persons an undivided fractional ownership interest in real property. Each co-owner has an equal right to possess the whole property, but without the right of survivorship. Individuals that own real property as tenants in common may own unequal interests and the percentage interest of each individual co-tenant is determined by the terms of the tenancy. 

Tenancy by the Entirety

A tenancy by the entirety is the tenancy held by a married couple on their joint acquisition of title after marriage. This form of ownership conveys title to the married couple as one person, with title transferred to the other in the entirety on the first death. When real property is conveyed to a married couple, a tenancy by the entirety is automatically formed by default unless the deed specifies another form of ownership (N.J.S.A. 46:3-17.2).

There is much more to the depth and scope of ownership types not included in this article, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.  Selecting the appropriate type for your personal situation is key. If you have additional questions or are currently experiencing real estate ownership issues, we are here to help!

Update on Private Well Testing Coming December, 2021

New Jersey law requires buyers or sellers of property to test the water before the sale and review the results prior to closing. Landlords are also required to periodically test and to provide tenants with test results. This test has traditionally been for a specific type and amount of microorganisms that are potentially harmful to human health. But for those of you looking to lease or sell in NJ after December 1, 2021, be aware that those requirements are getting even stricter. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has adopted additional amendments to the Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) rules that require testing for three per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).

What are PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA?
PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA are included within a group of man-made PFAS chemicals. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940’s with PFOA and PFOS being the most widely used and studied of the PFAS chemicals.

As per the EPA, current scientific research suggests that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects and more research is underway to better understand the health effects associated with low levels of PFAS exposure over long periods of time. There are a variety of ways that people can be exposed to PFAS chemicals, including drinking water that is sourced from a contaminated private drinking water well.

You Should Know – Trademarks are for every business!

Trademarks are an essential tool for any business, small or large. A trademark is any word, slogan or symbol that identifies your unique business offering, and distinguishes it from everyone else. It’s part of what makes your business special.

In order to secure your trademark as uniquely yours, you will need to register with the United States Patent & Trade Office. If granted, a registration gives you the exclusive right to use your trademark in association with your goods and services throughout the United States, and can even be used as the basis for foreign trademark filing should your business expand outside the U.S.

Why is this important? And what should you consider trademarking?

Consider trademarking your business name, any slogan, catchphrase, jingle, and logo you use for your business to prevent other businesses from capitalizing on your name. It is also an important way to build business assets if your goal is to eventually sell your business.

Even if you are registered to do business in a particular state, your business name is not protected as a trademark. Only registering with the United States Patent & Trade Office can give you that protection. And purchasing a domain name for your business’s name and website is no protection, either. Again, you must register your information with the United States Patent & Trade Office.

Still not convinced? Years from now, after you’ve invested your time and money into your business, someone else who *did* register your business name, slogan or logo may take legal action against, and force you to stop using their trademark, even if they registered the trademark years after you started using it. Not registering a trademark can cost a lot of money down the road!

The United State Patent and Trade office will not provide any legal advice to you, so it’s important to consider hiring an experienced trademark attorney to navigate the process on your behalf. An attorney can conduct a pre-application clearance search (to make sure no one else is using your proposed trademark already), file the correct applications, and advise you advise you on the best way to maintain and enforce your rights to your trademark once it is registered.

We can make the process as painless as possible. Give us a call.