Joint Tenancy vs. Tenancy in Common

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“If you are buying a house together with a friend or partner, the excitement can be overwhelming, but it is all too easy to overlook all the boring details that go with it. To avoid legal problems, joint ownership can have some implications that need to address the issue sooner rather than later.”

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Joint Tenancy vs. Tenancy in Common

You can hold title to your real property together in several ways when you own it with another person. Both ownership options set you up as joint owners but have some key differences. Joint tenants and tenants in common are both joint tenants. Although “tenant” is often used in renting, it refers to an owner here. Let’s come and know about Joint Tenancy vs. Tenancy In Common.


Property Ownership: Joint tenancy vs. tenancy in common

A property purchase is a large investment, and two people often need to purchase a property together (in the current California market, this is often necessary!).

Whether you are selling to a married couple, siblings, or friends, the type of ownership agreement you have must be the right one. If one owner wishes to relinquish their share or a co-owner dies, you will be fine if you get the ownership type right at the beginning of the purchase process.


Common forms of Property Ownership.

Common forms of property ownership are tenancies in common and joint tenancies. Even though both kinds of tenancies confer ownership rights and a share of the property on each party, the main difference between these two tenancies is that there are different rules governing the event of one tenant’s death.


Joint Tenancy

Upon the passing of a joint tenant, surviving joint tenants become the owners of the deceased tenant’s shares. As a result of their ownership interest acquisition by automatic means after the passing of the other joint tenant, joint tenants are known as “rights of survivorship.”

Additionally, each joint tenant has an undivided interest in the real property, and both owners assume the right to use it. When two spouses own property together, joint tenancy uses a lot, but you can only use it once if neither spouse has children from a previous relationship.

California inheritance laws may dictate that the property passes normally if the owners have children from a previous relationship.

Joint tenants must get equal property shares with the same deed simultaneously. An owner’s title, deed, or other legally binding document determines whether a property is a joint tenancy or a tenancy in common.


Transfer of joint tenancy

The other joint tenants inherit the deceased joint tenant’s interest in the property when the deceased joint tenant dies, which makes joint tenancy different from a tenancy in common. It is possible, however, for joint tenants to get a price if one of the owners sells their interest. If one owner sells, the tenancy becomes a tenancy in common.

The two ways to own property are as a joint tenant and a common tenancy. Finding the terms in the deed, title, or another legally binding ownership document is possible.


Joint tenancy estate taxes on the property.

In the case of Jack and Jill, joint tenancy delays estate taxes on the property. Jill inherits Jack’s interest in the home when Jack passes away, so it owes no estate tax. The estate tax is calculated on the entire property when Jill dies and leaves it to her children.

Considering joint tenancy with your entire estate planning strategy is important if you add a non-spouse to a property as a joint tenant. Joint tenancy is considered a gift and liable to gift taxes.

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of joint tenants vs tenants in common when establishing property ownership.


Tenants in Common

As an alternative to purchasing a property together, all owners can become tenants in common. In California, inheritance laws provide that when a tenant in common passes away. The shares belong to the heirs of the deceased owner.

Common tenants can’t inherit the shares the deceased owns, as it is with tenancies in common. If their ownership percentage is unequal, tenants in common own an undivided interest in the real estate and have equal rights to use it.

Tenants in common have the right to convey their share and transfer title because they can have uneven ownership percentages. In traditional inheritance succession, tenants in common are commonly used by non-family members to own property jointly or by spouses who have children from prior relationships.

It is presumably by California law that the owners are tenants in common if a deed does not specify whether tenants in common will be purchasing the property or whether joint tenants will be purchasing it.

To avoid disagreements between heirs about ownership interests in the property after death and to avoid having an estate go through probate, it is important to know how ownership interests in property pass. When one of the owners wants to sell the property or dies, estate planning and considering how the deed to the property should be Writable can help ease the pain later on.

There may be unequal shares and different ownership interests between tenants in common, even though any owner cannot claim a specific piece of property. Additionally, it is possible to get tenancies in common at different times. So, an individual can get an interest in a property years after one or more of their colleagues have established a tenancy in common.


Transfer of tenancy in common

Unlike tenants in common, they can sell their share of property separately. Therefore, owner A can sell half of the property while owner B retains the other half.

As soon as owner A passes away, his heirs will inherit his ownership rights. Still, owner B would have the rest of the property, which can lead to some sticky situations if the two owners need to become more familiar with each other.


Right of Survivorship

An interest in a property owned by joint tenants is transferred to its remaining owners when a deceased owner passes away. If two of the three joint tenants own a house and one dies, the remaining two tenants each receive one-half of the homes. This Refers to the right of survivorship.


Right of Survivorship.


A deceased owner’s interest in the property belongs to the estate unless the will or other instrument specifies that the interests will divide among the surviving owners.


Changing the ownership arrangement

Changing the ownership arrangement from a joint tenancy. All parties share a tenancy in common, which can be accomplished if one of the co-owners sells or transfers their interest to another party.

One of the following can break a tenancy in common:

  • Co-tenants buy out one another.
  • Owners receive proceeds from the sale of their property.
  • We can file a partition action if an heir wishes to sell their stake. Former common tenants may then create a joint tenancy through a written instrument.

Property can pass to the surviving spouse or family member without going through probate (saving time and money) since this type of title is most common between husbands and wives.


Differences between Joint tenancies vs. tenancy in common.

As we explained above, there are a few main differences between tenants in common and joint tenants, but we’ll break them into sections for your convenience:


Division of ownership

  • Joint Tenant: The property belongs to each joint tenant equally.
  • Tenants in Common: There can be many property shares in common.


Does the sale of the property need the agreement of all owners?

  • Joint Tenant: Definitely.
  • Tenants in Common: Yes, indeed.


In a will, can individuals leave individual shares?

  • Joint Tenants: You will automatically receive your share when you die if you are a joint tenant with another owner (or owners).
  • Tenants in Common: Yes.


Do you need a joint mortgage?

  • Joint Tenants: Yes.
  • Tenants in Common: You may need help finding a lender willing to split the mortgage this way.


What happens if you die?

Married couples frequently share their main house as joint tenants to ensure the property passes directly to their joint owner upon death. At the same time, joint tenancies are unsuitable for those who are not married since, upon death, they may want the property to go to their family or their children if they have any.

Considering what happens after a breakup is also worth considering. Your original intention was to leave the property to the other joint tenant. But that would mean that the partner you broke up with would gain ownership of it. The following is a guide on severing joint tenants or tenants in common for married couples.


Is this an investment?

A married couple may be able to own investment properties as buy-to-let properties if they were living there before they bought their new home; they decide not to sell and keep it. When you own an investment property, consider whether having a 50:50 beneficial share is tax efficient if you are joint tenants and wish to become tenants in common.


How would you react if your relationship ended?

If unmarried couples break up, they want to sell the property and get their money out. You can force a sale, but you must pay a high price. Your success rate will also depend on what you intend to do with the property once you buy it. The challenge arises in joint or married couple tenants in common if one joint owner does not want to sell but cannot afford to buy out the other joint owner.


Joint tenancy versus tenancy in common: Which is better?

Tenants in common married couple or joint tenants are both valid options for holding property, but the choice comes down to your individual needs and circumstances, not the best option.

In general, joint tenancies are more beneficial for married couples, while tenancy in common married couples is more suitable for groups buying together but wishing to maintain some separation.


How do joint tenants differ from sole tenants?

Let’s know about joint tenancy vs tenants in common pros and cons:

Pros and Cons of Joint Tenancy



  • In death, the surviving joint tenant owns the property 100% – if tenants are in common, the deceased’s estate will sell the property to release the equity.
  • Beneficial ownership – jointly owned properties are owned 100%, so income is equally divided.
  • It costs less regarding legal fees – deeds of trust and restrictions are more expensive to draft and register with solicitors.
  • There is no need to draft a will – if you intend to leave your home to your joint tenants (husband, wife, or civil partner), then we do not need a will.
  • No need to declare a From 17 – all rental income from properties Shares 50/50, so HMRC does not need any notification.



  • Risk in relationship breakdown: Since joint tenants own the property 100%, they only recognize if one party paid more than the other to buy the property. Gains and losses are equally shared.
  • Can’t use a joint tenancy agreement – joint tenants can’t have deeds of trust.
  • It is harder to force a sale – living as joint tenants makes it more difficult to sell the property without mutual consent, which requires you to go to court to find a sale agreement.


Advantages and disadvantages of Tenants in Common.


  • Tenants in common own separate and unequal beneficial interests in the property. A deed of trust can confirm your share.
  • Reduced risks if there is a breakdown – The relationship risk is reduced if the joint owners have written a deed of trust. In a deed of trust, as joint tenants, you can’t include anything about your beneficial interest, and if either party wishes to sell, the deed can specify that.
  • Easier to force a sale – If you have an exit clause in your deed of trust, you can force the sale.
  • Shares pass to the beneficiaries in your will instead of the joint property owners when you die.



  • An agreement that explains the share of beneficial interests between the joint owners is needed. The cost of drafting a basic deed of trust is £240 INC VAT.
  • Need to draft a will – your share of the property passes to your beneficiaries upon your death, not to your co-owner. A person dies intestate if they do not have a will. You can have a basic will drafted for £180 INC VAT by us.
  • Need to declare a From 17: Unlike joint tenants, if you and your spouse share the property unequally, any rental income is shared 50/50, and you need not report it to HMRC.


Need a deed of trust for separate profitable shares.

It is important to consider how you would like to live with your joint owner before you buy as Joint tenancy vs tenancy in common. To set out the intentions between tenants in common, a deed of trust would be a good idea if you’re buying as tenants in common. Different types of deeds are available from us, including:

Basic Deed of Trust for couples, long-term relationships, and families wanting to document their beneficial interests and confirm an exit strategy if one party wishes to sell their interests.

Let Deed of Trust is for joint owners who want to share the profits of their property tax-efficiently and should submit for filing a Form 17 declaration to HMRC.

A floating Deed of Trust Aims for unmarried couples and friends, with a more complicated formula to account for mortgage repayments, costs of purchase and sale, and investment growth.


Frequently Asked Questions


Who is interested in buying as a tenant in common?

A group of friends, family, or unmarried couples may want to keep their share of the property separate from the joint ownership interest of their joint owner due to their separate interest.

In the future, unmarried couples may share the property as joint tenants. When a married couple buys as joint tenants, the property transfers to their partner upon death.


What is the reason for purchasing joint tenants?

The main reason married couples purchase as joint tenants is so that when they die, the property transfers to their partner and because a married couple’s property is assumed to be Co-own equally unless otherwise stated.


How can we turn the property over to beneficial tenants in common?

During the joint tenancy, you can turn the property over to beneficial tenants in common at any time.


Can we change from tenants in common to joint tenants?

You can do so anytime if you want to change your residential property to increase your security. For instance, an unmarried couple may want to move from being tenants to tenants in common.


The bottom line about Joint Tenancy vs. Tenancy in Common

Which is better, Joint tenancy vs tenancy in common? Whatever type of homeownership you choose, update your will with any new assets you get. Joint tenancy has advantages and disadvantages, so knowing your rights is important. The Attorney Real Estate Group can help you prepare your estate by providing estate planning and writing services.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  Bio...

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