Land can be owned by natural persons, a corporation or a trust. The most common forms of land ownership are as joint tenants or tenants in common.
In a joint tenancy two or more persons own land together in undivided shares. Each owner has the right to sell or transfer their interest but they do not have the right to include their interest in their will. This is because a joint tenancy has what is called a ‘right of survivorship’. This means that on the death of one of the joint tenants their interest automatically passes to the remaining tenant or tenants.
Tenants in common
Tenants in common differs from a joint tenancy in that each owner has a quantifiable share. The words on the document creating the co-ownership will indicate whether it is a tenancy in common:
- Eg ‘To Mary, Richard and Sally in equal shares’
- Eg ‘To Richard in the proportion of a quarter share and to Sally in the proportion of a three quarter share’
Each owner can sell, transfer or include their share in their will (unlike a joint tenancy there is no right of survivorship).