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Tenancy in common is a form of ownership involving two or more people. The idea is that if one person dies, their share of the property (or land, if applicable) forms part of their estate.

This is sometimes confused with a joint tenancy. However, the two are very different. With a joint tenancy, if one person dies, their portion of the property goes to the surviving tenant. This is commonly seen with married couples, where automatic inheritance of the entire property falls to the surviving partner. This is known as having Rights of Survivorship.

With tenancy in common, this automatic inheritance does not occur. Instead, the portion of the property owned by the deceased party is treated as part of their estate. This share of the property could be left to whomever is specified in that person’s will.

Another aspect worth noting is that if there are two tenants in common, they may not necessarily own 50% each. Similarly, four people who are tenants in common may not own 25% of the property or land apiece. The percentages can vary.

The biggest issue that can potentially arise with a tenancy in common is when one party wishes to sell and no one else with an interest in the property agrees with this. This could feasibly happen if one tenant dies and leaves their portion to someone in their will. If that person then wishes to sell, it could cause problems. The person receiving the share of the property (or anyone else who wants to sell) would need to file a partition action to try and force a sale.

Tenancy in Common
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