What Is Ownership Interest?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Ownership interest is a term that is used to describe the range of rights and responsibilities that come along with the acquisition of some type of property. Often used as a means of identifying property rights and commitments connected with the ownership of a piece of real estate, ownership interests addresses the rights of the owner to retain, manage, sell and event donate the property if so desired. Typically, ownership interest also addresses the owner’s responsibility in terms of upkeep of the property and honoring any tax debts that are assessed on the real estate, based on how much ownership is invested in that property.

Ownership interest is often used with regard to a piece of real estate.
Ownership interest is often used with regard to a piece of real estate.

At the core of ownership interest is the ability of the owner or owners to make use of the holding as they see fit. This means that as long as the activities that are conducted on the property are in compliance with local regulations, the owners are free to use the property in any way they like. This includes using the real estate as a private residence, as a place of business, or a combination of the two. Owners may also choose to lease or rent the property to a third party, effectively using the asset as a means of creating an income stream. Should the owners desire, ownership also provides the ability to donate the property to a charitable organization or even give the real estate to another individual, subject to any limitations imposed by local laws.

Along with the benefits that are included in ownership interest, there are also responsibilities that owners assume. This in many cases committing to upkeep of the property that is at least in compliance with the minimum standards set in place by local jurisdictions. In addition, owners must pay any capital gains taxes, property taxes, and any other obligations that result from the ownership and use of the property. Failure to do so could lead to seizure of the property by the local jurisdiction, with ownership interest terminated at the time the property is seized and eventually sold to a new owner.

Ownership interest may be held by an individual or an entity such as a company or non-profit organization. In some cases, the interest may be shared by multiple entities. For example, three individuals may choose to purchase a vacation home together, with each one holding ownership interest that is in line with the amount of investment they made in the acquisition. With this arrangement, all the owners share in proportion to their investment both the benefits and the responsibilities associated with the arrangement.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- I don't know that paying rent is exactly what you would call throwing money away. When you pay rent, that means you have a right to use a property but you don't have to deal with property taxes, insurance, maintenance (usually) and any other expense that is part of the joy of owning real estate.

Also, you can leave that property and go elsewhere as soon as your lease is up. You cannot just cut and run when it comes to a building you own. No, you are stuck with it. And that means you are stuck with it if the market goes down in that area and your building is worth less than you paid for it. Eating that loss is a complete and total drag.


@Melonlity -- I see what you mean but I cannot agree with you. I think there are a lot of advantages to owning a property instead of renting it.

Let's say, for example, you want to build an indoor shooting range. Yes, you could rent a property and it would be within the law to set one up if you meet the regulatory guidelines and such in your community. But there is no way you can use that rented property for a shooting range if the landlord doesn't want you to do that (and a lot of them wouldn't because of liability issues). If you want to build that indoor shooting range, you would probably have more luck by owning the building used to house it. The ownership interest in that property, then, cannot be influenced by someone who doesn't own the building.

Also, keep in mind that you have something you can sell if you own a building. If you are paying on a mortgage, that cash is like an investment. Where is the investment if you are paying rent? There is none.


In the commercial setting, one can often have the equivalent of an ownership interest without actually owning a blasted part of a property. That is because people are free to engage in lawful activities on a property and can, in effect, do anything they want.

Meanwhile, the landlord is on the hook to fix things if they go wrong, has to pay property taxes, etc. Also, the landlord is stuck with declining property values if the piece of real estate is suddenly in a part of town from which development is retreating.

With all of those negatives, it makes a lot of sense to rent a piece of commercial property instead of owning it.

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