What Is the Difference Between Joint Tenants & Tenants in Common?

Updated April 17, 2017

Parties involved in a joint-tenants or joint-tenants-in-common agreement have legal ownership in a property. The rights afforded each party vary based on which agreement the parties have entered.

Joint Tenants

Under a joint-tenants agreement, all parties--a minimum of two--have ownership rights to the property and typically own equal shares.


Under a joint-tenants agreement, upon the passing of one of the agreement holders, his share of the property automatically passes to the remaining holders. This happens even in the event of a will.


Joint-tenants-in-common agreements differ from joint-tenant agreements in a few respects, chiefly the disposition of assets upon death of one of the holders and the value of shares owned.


Under a joint-tenants-in-common agreement, a mandatory requirement for equal ownership by all parties does not exist. For example, one party might own 80 per cent of the property and the remaining holder(s) would own the rest.


Wills govern the disposition of assets under a joint-tenants-in-common agreement. Automatic right of survivorship does not exist and assets do not automatically transfer to surviving agreement holders.

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About the Author

From 2002-2006, Kenneth Hamlett was publisher and head writer for UNSIGNED Music Magazine, an online publication with over 100,000 readers. Prior to establishing UNSIGNED, Hamlett was a business solutions analyst and spent 15 years formulating and writing proposals for supply chain business solutions. He is a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography.