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Tenancy in Common

Tenancy in common refers to a form of property ownership in which two or more individuals hold a shared interest in a property. Unlike other types of property ownership, such as joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety, tenants in common have separate and distinct ownership interests. Each owner possesses an undivided interest in the property, allowing for distinct rights of possession, use, and disposition.


In a tenancy in common arrangement, multiple individuals can co-own a property without the requirement of being married or related. Each owner’s interest is defined by their respective percentage share of ownership, which need not be equal. For example, one owner may hold a 60% interest, while the remaining owners split the remaining 40% equally or unequally.

Tenants in common have the freedom to sell, transfer, or will their share of the property without the consent of the other owners. Additionally, each tenant in common has the right to occupy and use the entire property, subject to the rights of the other co-owners.

Key Characteristics of Tenancy in Common:

  1. Undivided interest: Each tenant in common possesses an undivided interest in the property, meaning they own a fractional share of the whole property rather than a specific part.
  2. No survivorship rights: Unlike joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety, tenancy in common does not include a right of survivorship. In the event of the death of one owner, their share passes to their heirs or beneficiaries and not to the surviving owners.
  3. Independent decision-making: Each tenant in common can independently decide on matters related to their share of the property. This includes selling, mortgaging, or otherwise encumbering their interest.
  4. Liability and expenses: Each tenant in common is responsible for their proportionate share of expenses associated with the property, including taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs. However, if one owner is unable to contribute, the other owners are not obligated to cover the shortfall.
  5. Severance of interest: An owner can sever their interest from a tenancy in common by conveying it to another party, thereby creating a separate tenancy in common relationship with the new owner.
  6. Partition: In the event of disputes among co-owners, a partition action may be initiated to divide the property or force a sale. A partition can be sought through legal means if an amicable resolution is not achievable.

Tenancy in Common vs. Joint Tenancy and Tenancy by the Entirety:

While tenancy in common and joint tenancy both involve shared ownership, they have distinct differences. Joint tenancy includes the right of survivorship, meaning that upon the death of one owner, their share automatically transfers to the surviving owners. Tenancy by the entirety, on the other hand, is a form of property ownership exclusive to married couples, providing similar survivorship rights.

In conclusion, tenancy in common offers a flexible and versatile form of property ownership that enables multiple individuals to co-own property while maintaining separate interests. This arrangement provides each tenant in common with specific rights related to possession, use, and disposition, making it a popular choice for investors, siblings, friends, or business partners engaging in property ownership.