Joint Tenants vs. Tenants in Common: Understanding The Important Differences

Some of the most common real estate terminology centers around the difference between joint tenants vs. tenants in common. Joint Tenants have full ownership rights, whereas Tenants in Common only share ownership. This article will explore the differences between the two.

The difference between joint tenants vs. tenants in common is not as straightforward as it may seem. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each type, so you can understand how they affect you. 

Joint Tenants are individuals who own property together with another person or group of people known as "joint tenants." This means that if one owner dies, their share will automatically pass on to the other owners.

 With Tenants in Common, different owners will have ownership individually, meaning that they can sell off their percentage without needing permission from any other owner(s). 

To learn more about the 4 Types of Real Estate co-ownership, click here.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between Joint Tenants vs. Tenants in Common.

Joint Tenants 

Many people have joint tenants or joint ownership of a property. Joint tenancy is when two or more people own an asset in which each person holds the whole thing (jointly). It's important to know what happens with the property if one owner dies. The survivor will automatically take over sole ownership of the whole thing, and there are no legal steps required to do so. 

All owners may have a right to possess and use the property, but not necessarily an equal share in it. In other words, if one person owns 50% of the house while another person owns 30%, then each individual has a right to occupy and enjoy their respective percentage of ownership. 

If you are a joint tenant and your co-tenant dies, what happens to the property? This is an essential question for all co-owners of a home or other real estate. Joint tenants have rights that come into play if one of them dies. 

If the deceased person was single, then his or her share will pass to their heirs. The surviving joint tenant(s) can choose to buy out the deceased's share to continue as the sole owner/occupier of the property. 

But if there are also children from both spouses' previous marriages who inherit, they may want it sold so that each child has an equal interest in it. It is best for all parties involved in this situation to be discussed well before any significant life changes. 

Tenants in Common

Tenancy in Common is a legal arrangement where two or more people share ownership of property. The most common form of tenancy in common is when two people own an apartment together, but it can also apply to businesses and investments. 

There are many benefits to this type of agreement, including the ability for tenants to add new partners at any time, making it easy for families or groups of friends to grow their investment over time.  All parties involved must understand what rights they have as co-owners before signing the document. 

It can be difficult to tell who owns what since there isn't usually a deed for the property. Tenants in common have an equal right to use and possess the property unless they agree otherwise. 

They also share responsibility for paying any mortgage on the home, taxes, insurance, and upkeep costs. When one person dies, their interest in the tenancy passes to their estate or heirs if it's not specified differently in their will or trust document.

There are many aspects of a tenancy in common that you should be aware of if you consider this type of ownership. For example, the cost to buy into the property is based on an agreed percentage and can vary from 30% up to 50%.

You'll also need to have a written agreement with your co-owners about how decisions will be made and who will manage the property. These agreements can get pretty complicated, but fortunately, there are plenty of resources available online for guidance.

Joint Tenants vs. Tenants in Common: Which is Simpler?

Joint tenancy is the more straightforward of the two choices since it eliminates the need to calculate how much each person pays to the selling price and divides it evenly. A spouse that is joint tenants has alternatives if their marriage fails before either of them passes away and they choose to divide their property. 

They may decide to sell the house as well as move out. The revenues are split 50/50 between them in this situation. Alternatively, one of them may choose to stay in the estate and buy out the other half-share to continue living there.

When both parties want to keep the property but can't agree on how to do so, the situation may end up in court. Although joint tenancy is less complicated, it can be inadequate in some cases. In the event of a divorce, one party may contest the 50-50 equity split. 

They may believe they paid more to the estate than their cohabitee and take their matter to trial, where a new percentage division of possession may be decided. This could lead to the asset being ordered to be sold by the court.

Richard Gans and Tami Conetta go into greater depth on the tax benefits and disadvantages of the two here.

Transfer of Tenants in Common

Frequently, people will buy a property as Tenants in Common. This is where each person owns a share of the property, and they are entitled to pass on their share to an heir or partner without upsetting the other owners. It's also possible for one owner to sell their interest in the property, but this can create problems for any co-owners left behind with no say over what happens next. 

A transfer of tenancy in common when ownership of property changes from one person to another. This can happen either through the death of an owner or if someone sells their interest in the property. In both cases, it is important to know how this change will affect your taxes and whether you are required to pay capital gains tax on any increase in value that has occurred since you purchased your share. 

Tenants in common can sell their shares in the estate separately. This indicates that owner A could liquidate his share of the business while owner B keeps the other half. 

If owner A dies, his property rights go to his descendants, but owner B retains ownership of half of the asset.

Transfer of Joint Tenants

Every day, people make decisions about the future of their homes. One such decision is whether to transfer ownership of the joint property to other joint tenants, or sell your share in the property outright for a lump sum payment. Selling shares could mean you're giving up some rights if you ever want to buy back into that home at some point, so make sure this is something you want before going through with it!

The law of joint tenancy in some places is complicated and often misunderstood. Joint tenants are people who own real estate together as "joint tenants with right of survivorship.” This means that when one person dies, the other person automatically inherits the deceased tenant's share. 

The problem arises when someone wants to transfer their interest in a house they live in jointly with someone else to another party; if this happens, it can be challenging for the new owner to claim their inheritance from the deceased tenant because joint tenancy law states that you must have permission from all living co-owners before transferring your ownership rights. 


The main way to understand the difference between joint tenancy and tenancy in common is joint tenants equally own 50% of a property, while tenants in common share ownership. It is important to understand the difference, and to have clear legal documents stating your heirs to the property, and expectations of ownership to prevent headache for you and your heirs.

Buying a property with others is a great way to build equity while having lower costs to entry, but its important to be aware of what you are getting yourself into, and have legal cover to prevent future arguments, and loss of income.

If you are interested in co-buying a home, check out Cher's website.