2014_rainbow_house_For many business owners and investors, owning real estate is a key component of their operations. However, the specific requirements involved with owing property in the U.S. Virgin Islands can be complicated.

For one, owning real estate isn’t like owning personal property, as the owner(s) must have title to the property. Furthermore, transferring the title depends on the circumstances of the transfer and the method of title in which the real estate is held. Consideration of all these factors can and should impact the process of establishing joint ownership of real estate.

The following are the different arrangements through which multiple people may own real estate in the USVI.

Joint tenancy

Joint tenancy is actually just what its name sounds like — the equal ownership of real estate by two or more people. The death of one owner results in the passing of ownership along to the others, and there is no requirement that these individuals be married or related.

Tenancy in common

Tenancy in common works much like joint tenancy, except that the tenants hold the title individually. This means they can do with their share of the property as they please. Unlike in joint tenancy, real estate held through tenancy in common may be willed to other parties.

Tenants by entirety

To own property as tenants by entirety, the two owners are regarded as one person under the law, which means that in the event of one spouse’s death, nothing is required of the other because the ownership automatically transfers. If a couple gets a divorce while holding property in this manner, the title automatically defaults to tenancy in common.

Ownership options for businesses and other groups

Businesses have a variety of options for real estate ownership. A corporation may own property and is considered separate from its shareholders if this is the case. Partnerships and limited partnerships are also able to own real estate. In fact, the ownership of property is sometimes the catalyst for the establishment of partnerships in the first place.

This arrangement can be a great option for those holding several real estate properties. It’s also possible to own real estate through a trust, in which the trustee is responsible for the maintenance of the property on behalf of those designated as beneficiaries.

Although there are several options available to those desiring to have join ownership of real estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it’s definitely an arrangement that requires some planning and prior knowledge. Ultimately, how multiple people or business partners choose to hold real estate is a matter best discussed with qualified professionals to determine the best course of action from a tax, legal and real estate perspective.

BoltNagi is a well-established and widely respected real estate law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.