Tenancy in Common

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Tenancy in Common

A form of concurrent ownership of real property in which two or more persons possess the property simultaneously; it can be created by deed, will, or operation of law.

Tenancy in Common is a specific type of concurrent, or simultaneous, ownership of real property by two or more parties. Generally, concurrent ownership can take three forms: joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety, and tenancy in common. These forms of concurrent ownership give individuals a choice in the way that co-ownership of property will be carried out. Each type of tenancy is distinguishable from the others by the rights of the co-owners.

Usually, the term tenant is understood to describe a person who rents or leases a piece of property. In the context of concurrent estates, however, a tenant is a co-owner of real property.

All tenants in common hold an individual, undivided ownership interest in the property. This means that each party has the right to alienate, or transfer the ownership of, her ownership interest. This can be done by deed, will, or other conveyance. In a tenancy by the entirety (a concurrent estate between married persons), neither tenant has the right of alienation without out the consent of the other. When a tenant by the entirety dies, the surviving spouse receives the deceased spouse's interest, thus acquiring full ownership of the property. This is called a Right of Survivorship. Joint tenants also have a right of survivorship. A joint tenant may alienate his property, but if that occurs, the tenancy is changed to a tenancy in common and no tenant has a right of survivorship.

Another difference between tenants in common and joint tenants or tenants by the entirety is that tenants in common may hold unequal interests. By contrast, joint tenants and tenants by the entirety own equal shares of the property. Furthermore, tenants in common may acquire their interests from different instruments: joint tenants and tenants by the entirety must obtain their interests at the same time and in the same document.

Further readings

Kurtz, Sheldon F., and Herbert Hovenkamp. 2003. Cases and Materials on American Property Law. 4th ed. St. Paul, Minn.: West.

tenancy in common

n. title to property (usually real property, but it can apply to personal property) held by two or more persons, in which each has an "undivided interest" in the property and all have an equal right to use the property, even if the percentage of interests are not equal or the living spaces are different sizes. Unlike "joint tenancy" there is no "right of survivorship" if one of the tenants in common dies, and each interest may be separately sold, mortgaged or willed to another. Thus, unlike a joint tenancy interest which passes automatically to the survivor, upon the death of a tenant in common there must be a probate (court supervised administration) of the estate of the deceased to transfer the interest (ownership) in the tenancy in common. (See: tenancy, joint tenancy)

References in classic literature ?
Then, sniffing each vagrant zephyr, Sheeta, the panther, crept cautiously forward, nor had he advanced any considerable distance before his keen nostrils were rewarded with the scent of man--a Tarmangani.
As he came closer to Sheeta he became aware that the panther on his part was stalking game of his own, and even as he realized this fact there came to his nostrils, wafted from his right by a vagrant breeze, the strong odour of a company of great apes.
But when one of the vagrant impulses of fear, common in that age of perpetual insecurity, moved within me, I was struck with my own loneliness.
Once, when the ketch, swerved by some vagrant current, came close to the break of the shore-surf, the blacks on board drew toward one another in apprehension akin to that of startled sheep in a fold when a wild woods marauder howls outside.
Then, too, she loved nature, and with generous imagination he changed the scene of their reading - sometimes they read in closed-in valleys with precipitous walls, or in high mountain meadows, and, again, down by the gray sand-dunes with a wreath of billows at their feet, or afar on some volcanic tropic isle where waterfalls descended and became mist, reaching the sea in vapor veils that swayed and shivered to every vagrant wisp of wind.
Unable to give any account of himself he was arrested as a vagrant and sentenced to imprisonment in the Infants' Sheltering Home--where he was washed.
Over the surface of this second desert the ghostly white figures of vagrant ducks gleamed at intervals in the mystic light.
They had but one alternative,--to leave the soil and become vagrants, in brief, to starve.
Hence the houses of this district, having had a thousand dwellers, should have a thousand tales to tell, mostly dull ones, no doubt; but it would be strange if there could not be found a ghost or two in the wake of all these vagrant guests.
From the point the shore curved away, more and more to the south and west, until at last it disclosed a cove within the cove, a little land-locked harbour, the water level as a pond, broken only by tiny ripples where vagrant breaths and wisps of the storm hurtled down from over the frowning wall of rock that backed the beach a hundred feet inshore.
The footpad hiding in a ditch had marked him passing like a ghost along its brink; the vagrant had met him on the dark high-road; the beggar had seen him pause upon the bridge to look down at the water, and then sweep on again; they who dealt in bodies with the surgeons could swear he slept in churchyards, and that they had beheld him glide away among the tombs on their approach.
Giles's Church, London, under the direction of a drunken cripple, who was a convicted thief, and an incorrigible vagrant.