Understanding the Different Types of Co-Ownership Recognized by US Property Rights Law

When it comes to owning real estate, there are several ways in which multiple owners can hold title. These forms of co-ownership include common tenants, roommates with the right to survive, collective tenancy, and community property. Joint ownership can be a great solution for people who want to own a home, especially for first-time buyers. However, it is important to understand that co-ownership can limit your rights and options, not only while you own the property, but also when you want to transfer the property to an heir or other purchaser. In order to understand the different types of co-ownership recognized by US property rights law, it is important to first understand the three main forms of joint ownership (or concurrent ownership): joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and tenancy by the entirety.

State-specific laws will dictate the ins and outs of these concurrent ownership alternatives where you live, but here's an overview of co-ownership and the rights of concurrent owners.

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy (JT), sometimes also referred to as joint leasing with the right to survive (JTWROS), is when two or more people own property together, in equal shares. Colorado law presumes joint tenure, unless joint tenure is expressly stated in the deed. This can be done using the phrase “as co-tenants with the right to survive” or “in joint tenancy with the right to survive”, or by using the abbreviation “JTWROS”. Each co-owner has the right to mortgage, sell or transfer their own share in the property without the consent of the other owners.

Tenancy in Common

Tenancy in common (TIC) is when two or more people own a property together but not necessarily in equal shares.

Each co-owner has a “non-exclusive right” to possession of all property. While a co-owner can use all of the property, they do not have the right to occupy a certain part of it exclusively. If one of them wants to sell their share of the property, they can do so without needing permission from any other co-owner.

Tenancy by Entirety

Tenancy by entirety (TBE) is only available for married couples and is similar to joint tenancy in that each spouse owns an undivided interest in the entire property. The key difference between TBE and JT is that if one spouse dies, their interest passes automatically to the surviving spouse without going through probate.

This form of ownership also provides protection from creditors for both spouses.

Important Considerations

When considering any form of co-ownership, it is important to consider how decisions will be made and how disputes will be resolved. It is also important to consider who will be entitled to first refusal if one of them wants to sell their share of the property, what will happen if one of them does not pay their share of legitimate expenses, etc. Co-ownership can be a great solution for people who want to own a home together. However, it is important to understand all of your rights and options before entering into any form of co-ownership agreement.