Joint Tenancy vs. Tenancy in Common

Joint Tenancy vs Tenancy In Common In California

Updated on February 24, 2023

When it comes to owning real estate in California, there are two common ways that individuals can hold title to a property: Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common. While these terms may sound similar, they have distinct legal implications that can have a significant impact on your rights and obligations as a property owner.

Understanding the differences between Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common is essential when purchasing or selling real estate in California, as well as for estate planning purposes.

In this article, we will explore the key differences between Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common, and help you determine which option is best suited for your specific situation.

Firstly, Lets start with the basic definitions,

Joint Tenancy is a way of holding title to a property in California, where two or more individuals own the property together with equal rights of ownership. When one owner passes away, their share of the property automatically transfers to the surviving owners. This process is known as the “right of survivorship.” Joint Tenancy is commonly used for married couples or family members who want to ensure that the surviving owner(s) will inherit the property without the need for probate.

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Tenancy in Common is another way of holding title to a property in California, where two or more individuals own the property together but with separate and distinct shares. Each owner has the right to sell, transfer, or mortgage their share of the property without the consent of the other owners. In the event of an owner’s death, their share of the property passes to their heirs or beneficiaries as directed by their will or through intestate succession. Tenancy in Common is commonly used by business partners or friends who want to own property together, but maintain separate ownership and control over their share of the property.

Which is Better Tenancy In Common or Joint Tenancy?

The two most common ways to jointly own property with one or more persons in California are joint tenancy and tenancy in common California law. The default method of co-ownership is actually tenancy in common California. In other words, unless the deed specifically states the method of co-ownership, the co-owners will hold title as tenants in common California. Accordingly, it is important to specify the method of co-ownership in the deed, especially if the co-owners do not want to own the property as tenants in common.

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A few of the similarities and differences between these two methods of co-ownership are explained below.

Tenancy in common vs joint tenancy California Law Similarities

● Each owner has an equal right to possess, use, and benefit from the entire property

● Each owner is responsible for their proportionate share of the expenses of the property, including payments of mortgage, maintenance, property taxes, insurance, etc.

● Each owner is entitled to their proportionate share of income from the property, such as rental income

● Each owner has a right to encumber their separate interest in the property without affecting the co-owner(s) interest(s)

Tenancy in common vs joint tenancy California Law Differences

tenancy in common vs joint tenancy

Accordingly, one of the main issues to consider when deciding whether to jointly own property as tenants in common California or joint tenants is how the owner’s interest will transfer upon death.

For example, if a husband and wife or parent and child jointly own property, then holding title as joint tenants is preferable as the decedent’s interest will automatically transfer to the surviving co-owner without the hassle of going through probate or other proceeding. However, if friends or siblings jointly own property, then holding title as tenants in common may be preferable so that each owner can dictate who will receive their interest in the property when they die.

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The Schorr Law’s real estate attorneys in Los Angeles, have a great deal of experience dealing with tenancy disputes, partition actions, and quiet title actions as well. We frequently deal with disputes concerning ownership of real property regardless of whether a party is arguing actual ownership is accurately reflected by record title. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today.

By: Carina Woo, esq.

See related blog posts: What Happens to Property After the Death of Joint Tenants