What Is Co-Ownership? The position has been well stated by Hatherley LC in Robertson v Fraser (1871) 6 Ch A 696: A joint tenancy could only have arisen if A and B graduated at the same time. Obviously, where the ownership of an interest in land is vested in a number of people, conflicts can arise concerning the proper management of the property. The only unity is so-called unity of possession. In order to satisfy unity of interest, it must also be proven that the interests of each joint tenant are identical in quantity. Although the interests of the children of A and B may vest at different times, they will not infringe the unity of time requirement.1. The most significant practical distinction between them is that the so-called right of survivorship attaches to a joint tenancy. A joint tenancy will not simply arise where two or more persons purchase land together. Joint owners must acquire title by the same deed, will or possession. A and B co-own the land but not as joint tenants because there is no unity of time. No distinction can be drawn between the interest of any one tenant and that of any other tenant… Logical as may seem the deduction that joint tenants have not interests which in contemplation of law are sufficiently distinct to assure mutually to one another, there are many considerations which show that, to say the least, the consequence cannot be called an unqualified truth… For purposes of alienation each is conceived as entitled to dispose of an aliquot share. Upon registration of judgment mortgage against a joint tenant, the joint tenancy is not severed. By her will, A devises her portion in the land to X. The fundamental feature of all co-owner relationships is the joint right of each co-owner to possess the land. An application may also be made to dispense with consent to severance of a joint tenancy, on the basis that it is unreasonably withheld. Each co-owner is entitled to use and occupy the entire property. Nevertheless, given the difficulty of such a prohibition in an increasingly corporatised world, statutory provisions now ensure the right of a corporation to acquire and hold any real or personal property in a joint tenancy in the same manner as it were an individual.3 As the co-owner relationship remained a joint tenancy up until the death of A, the right of survivorship means that B and C will become seised of the entire estate and X will receive no interest. Once severed, the joint tenancy becomes a tenancy in common and the right of survivorship ceases to apply. In Victoria, s 50 of the Transfer of Land Act 1958 provides that, upon the death of any person registered with any other person as joint proprietor of any land, the Registrar, on the application of the survivor and proof to the satisfaction of the Registrar of the death, shall register the applicant as the proprietor thereof and, thereupon, such survivor shall become the transferee of such land and be the registered proprietor.5, If a co-owner relationship does not satisfy the requirements for the creation of a joint tenancy, then it will constitute what is known as a ‘tenancy in common’. This would usually be the case, where a married couple purchase property together. A co-ownership relationship will only arise where two or more people claim ownership to the same interest in land. Unity of possession exists where each and every co-owner is entitled to possess the land. In contrast, under English Law, it is possible to have a maximum of four legal owners. The law of co-ownership is a product of statute and the common law, the Law of Property Act and the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees … Where the wording of a transfer indicates, even to the slightest extent, an intention to confer an undivided share to each joint owner, the common law presumption will be rebutted. Certain wording in the deed or document creating the interest is presumed to create the tenancy in common. Finally, a co-owner relationship can only constitute a joint tenancy where the interests of each joint tenant have vested at exactly the same time and by virtue of the same event. The right of survivorship will automatically apply to all joint tenancies unless it can be established that the joint tenancy has been severed prior to the death of a joint tenant (see discussion on severance at para 16.5). In 1996, B attains the age of 21; in 1997 C attains the age of 21; and, in 1998, B dies. The fact that the deceased joint tenant has devised her estate is irrelevant; the interest of a joint tenant is no more capable of devolution by will than it is capable of devolving upon an intestacy. The joint owners could partition the property by agreement. (c)   Unity of title The right of survivorship is a natural characteristic of all joint tenancies, and any co-owner relationship where it is excluded or otherwise exempted cannot constitute a joint tenancy. The fact that the deceased joint tenant has devised her estate is irrelevant; the interest of a joint tenant is no more capable of devolution by will than it is capable of devolving upon an intestacy. Different principles exist under common law and in equity. The process is also straightforward: there is a presumption that a surviving joint tenant will automatically receive the whole of the deceased joint tenant’s interest and thus take the property … Whilst the two dominant forms of co-owner relationships are the joint tenancy and the tenancy in common, other miscellaneous forms of mutual ownership have existed. Fragmentation under the doctrine of estates is based upon time: freehold estates exist indefinitely, whilst non-freehold estates must exist for a specified period of time. If the shares were unequal, then a tenancy in common would definitely exist. X dies in 1998 and the interests of A and B are vested in possession. Unity of possession confers an entitlement upon all co-owners to mutually use and possess the land. The interests of each joint tenant in the land held are always the same in respect of possession, interest, title and time. Where this right does not exist, the relationship cannot be truly defined as a co-ownership. Generally, when persons acquire ownership by possession against the “true” owner, they acquire as joint owners. If you are already listed as a co-owner on the prior deed—or if you inherited an interest in the property through a life estate deed, transfer-on-death deed, or lady bird deed —you may use an affidavit of survivorship to remove the deceased owner. Although the interests of the children of A and B may vest at different times, they will not infringe the unity of time requirement.1 A, B and C were seised of the entire estate together and, upon A’s death, B and C remain seised of the entire estate. Importantly, the right of survivorship does not apply to a tenancy in common, so that upon the death of one tenant in common, the interests of the remaining tenant(s) will not be enlarged. When someone who owns real property dies, the property goes into probate or it automatically passes, by operation of law, to surviving co-owners. In principle, it is possible to have as many co-owners as parties decide to create. The applications may be made by a person having an interest in the property. In other words, each owner has a right to live at the property. This is because separate estates have been individually conferred upon A and B: A holds a life estate autre vie and B holds a leasehold estate. However, a transfer to A and B in equal shares would be presumed to a tenancy in common in equal shares. Sole ownership occurs when a single person owns a complete interest in a property or asset. 16.2.5   Tenancy in common The right of survivorship is a natural characteristic of all joint tenancies, and any co-owner relationship where it is excluded or otherwise exempted cannot constitute a joint tenancy. They were accordingly more willing to find an intention to create a tenancy in common, where the application of joint ownership rules would be anomalous. The relationship is a tenancy in common because the contingent remainder interests of C and D vested at different times. The abstract of title most often includes “a summary of the original grant, subsequent changes in ownership and any encumbrances on the property, and finally a statement by the person preparing the abstract that it is complete and accurate,” according to online legal tech company Rocket Lawyer, which serves … Where no express intention exists and it is possible for the co-owner relationship to assume either form, it is necessary to resort to jurisdictional presumptions. Where one co-owner acquired his interest by way of a different instrument or document, no joint tenancy can exist, because there is no unity of title and the co-owner relationship must constitute a tenancy in common. All other ownership must be under a trust. You pay the mortgage on your bit and pay us rent on our bit, and you may not need a deposit. Furthermore, in some rare instances, the courts have been prepared to recognise the creation of a tenancy in common, despite an absence of words of severance, where it is deemed expedient and therefore appropriate.8. Land cannot be regarded as co-owned just because a range of people claim different interests over the same land. interests of each joint tenant are identical in quantity. An application could be made to the court for a partition and/or sales. This includes a mortgagee or creditor. In Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT, the Torrens legislation sets out that where two or more persons are registered on the title as joint proprietors, they are deemed to be entitled to the land as joint tenants.4 The wording of s 30(2) of the Victorian legislation is: Two or more persons who are registered as joint proprietors of land shall be deemed to be entitled thereto as joint tenants…. Unity of time requires interests to have been granted and to vest at the same time; if one co-owner receives the same interest from the same document as the other co-owners, but the vesting of that interest is conditional upon the happening of an event, then no joint tenancy can exist, because there is no unity of time between the interests. Each joint tenant owes reciprocal obligations and is entitled to reciprocal benefits, where they happen to accrue. Where partners purchase assets, there is a presumption that the property is to be held as tenants in common as between themselves. This requirement often overlaps with unity of title because, where interests have not been conferred pursuant to the same act, they will generally not have been conferred at the same time. The real concern underlying the so called ‘creation’ of co-owner relationships is the differing presumptions which exist under law and in equity where there is no express or implied intention set out in the transfer documentation. The grantee is the person receiving the share of ownership. A tenancy in common is a form of co-ownership which confers a proportionate share of the estate upon each co-owner and, unlike the joint tenancy, does not require unity and conformity between each co-owner’s interest, although unity of interest or title may fortuitously exist. Furthermore, X could not pass a valid lease to B where she has already passed a life estate to A; X has no possession to confer to B. The condition imposed upon the remainder estates held by A and B was inherently variable and, consequently, made it extremely unlikely that the interests of A and B would vest simultaneously. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the common law favours the presumption of a joint tenancy. The right of survivorship is essentially a principle of inheritance and, stated simply, entitles the interests of the remaining joint tenants to expand equally where one joint tenant dies. Once it is established that a mutual right of possession exists in a number of persons, the important issue to determine will be what form of co-owner relationship exists. (c)   Example 3—A conveys land to B for life, remainder to C and D when they turn 21. No distinction can be drawn between the interest of any one tenant and that of any other tenant… Logical as may seem the deduction that joint tenants have not interests which in contemplation of law are sufficiently distinct to assure mutually to one another, there are many considerations which show that, to say the least, the consequence cannot be called an unqualified truth… For purposes of alienation each is conceived as entitled to dispose of an aliquot share. A co-owner relationship exists because B and C jointly own the land and are jointly entitled to possess the land. A joint tenancy could only have arisen if A and B graduated at the same time. The determination of what form of co-ownership exists and whether it remains in existence is extremely important, because this can greatly affect the outcome of a co-owner … You need to put a document on file in the local public land records, showing that one joint owner has died and that the surviving co-owner is now the sole owner of the property. How the title passes depends on the deceased's will, and the form of ownership … Hence, as a corporation cannot die in a natural sense, under common law a corporation is incapable of being a joint tenant, either with another corporation or with a natural person. Indeed it is common for trustees to be joint owners (being bare legal owners), while the beneficiaries hold their shares as tenants in common. Hence, if X and Y both hold an interest in land for the life of Z, the relationship may be a joint tenancy, even if X also retains the fee simple remainder. One owner can not force a sale of the entire property without the consent of all. This type of joint ownership means that each co-owner has complete ownership of the property. Entitlement to an undivided share of the land is the foundation of the tenancy in common. estate and X will receive no interest. Unity of possession is a feature common to both a joint tenancy and a tenancy in common, as it is a basic requirement for all co-owner relationships. Land Title exclusively serves Colorado in over 50 offices throughout the state. The real property deed or title names any person with a vested interest in a piece of improved or unimproved land. Possession in this sense does not refer to exclusive possession of a particular part of the land but, rather, a general right along with all other co-owners to occupy, use and enjoy the entirety of the land. D. Co-ownership. on the face of the deed or Register). Each co-owner may hold an identical share in the estate or an aliquot part of the estate representing the amount of money they have individually contributed to the property. The rationale for this is steeped in history. We strive to meet your needs through knowledge, experience and attention to detail, while maintaining a vested interest in our community.” - Joe Strohmaier, Owner/Manager Co-ownership of legal title Where land is conveyed in to the names of more than one person, co-ownership of legal title will arise. The fundamental feature of all co-owner relationships is the joint right of each co-owner to possess the land. Coparcenary is a form of mutual ownership stemming from the common law inheritance rules. Interests in land may be fragmented under the doctrine of estates. Possession in this sense does not refer to exclusive possession of a particular part of the land but, rather, a general right along with all other co-owners to occupy, use and enjoy the entirety of the land. Importantly, the right of survivorship does not apply to a tenancy in common, so that upon the death of one tenant in common, the interests of the remaining tenant(s) will not be enlarged. The fact that two or more persons own a single piece of land does not mean that the interest is no longer defined by the right to exclude. Tenancy in common (TIC) "is a form of concurrent estate in which each owner, referred to as a tenant in common, is regarded by the law as owning separate and distinct shares of the same property. In the above cases,  the presumption is that there was an intention to hold the property as joint owners, notwithstanding the unequal contributions. Vested interest is a term which simply means a person has some right to the property. Each joint tenant owes reciprocal obligations and is entitled to reciprocal benefits, where they happen to accrue. 3 Copy the legal description from the current deed. The interest is still property in the sense that the rest of the world can be excluded: each co-owner is not considered to be ‘the rest of the world’ but, rather, individual owners. Hence, as a corporation cannot die in a natural sense, under common law a corporation is incapable of being a joint tenant, either with another corporation or with a natural person. (d)   Unity of time If the other joint tenant does not grant consent to severance, it is possible to apply to the court to have the consent dispensed with. It is not clear whether this refers to persons already registered expressly as joint tenants, or to persons who are entitled to be registered as joint tenants because of compliance with the four unities and the right of survivorship principles, or whether it simply deems all co-ownership relationships which are registered to constitute joint tenancies. The rationale for this requirement is that interests acquired by different acts are not truly identical in nature. Each co-owner may hold an identical share in the estate or an aliquot part of the estate representing the amount of money they have individually contributed to the property. In order to resolve this uncertainty, the land titles office in most states requires co-owners to specifically state the character of their co-ownership upon the land transfer documents. Co-ownership arises where more than one person owns the same estate, interest or title in land. With over 50 convenient office locations, we've closed some of the largest transactions in CO… As each tenant in common holds a distinct, undivided share of the land, they are able to deal with their undivided shares as they wish. It is possible to have legal joint tenants but equitable tenants in common. The insurance company provides legal assistance and pays any valid … This reversal in inapplicable to transfers to trustees, executors, administrators and mortgagees—obviously the right of survivorship is appropriate to such commercial situations. Furthermore, the act of one co-owner in transferring her interest in the land over to a third party may constitute a severance of the joint tenancy. As a general rule, a joint tenant cannot deal with the land in a manner binding upon the other joint tenants. Where the four unities cannot be proven, but a joint right to possession exists, the co-ownership will generally constitute a tenancy in common.  One co-owner cannot partition the property without the consent of the other. There is an indivisible percentage, as each person technically owns 100 percent of the real estate. By her will, A devises her portion in the land to X. Where two joint tenants die simultaneously, for example in an accident, then they are deemed to have held their shares as tenants in common in equal shares immediately prior to death. Different principles exist under common law and in equity. For example, if X, the fee simple owner of land, transfers an estate to A for the duration of his life and to B for 10 years, A and B do not take the land as joint tenants. There is no presumption of tenancy in common, but there is a preference for it, where this accords with the economic interest of the parties. This reflects their underlying commercial relationship. If, however, the co-owner uses it to such an extent as to effectively make it unavailable to the other co-owner, then this might amount to an unlawful ouster of the latter. Registering a new deed with a new title can take time and money, but it has to be done. Hence, a tenant in common may alienate his undivided share inter vivos or bequest it or encumber it in any way provided it does not interfere with the rights of the remaining tenants in common. Words of severance are words that are used by the creator of a co-owner relationship which imply an intention to confer a distinct share in the land to each co-owner and therefore create a tenancy in common. Furthermore, in some rare instances, the courts have been prepared to recognise the creation of a tenancy in common, despite an absence of words of severance, where it is deemed expedient and therefore appropriate.8 Hence, a tenant in common may alienate his undivided share inter vivos or bequest it or encumber it in any way provided it does not interfere with the rights of the remaining tenants in common. This is likely to be no longer applicable in view of the Constitution and modern circumstances each spouse is bound to maintain the other. A joint tenancy can only exist where the rights and interests held by each co-owner are identical and satisfy what are known as the ‘four unities’. 16.1   Introduction Hence, one joint tenant holds the whole estate jointly with the remaining joint tenants, but individually holds nothing except the right to jointly use, possess and enjoy the land subject to the like rights of the other joint tenant(s). Words of severance are words that are used by the creator of a co-owner relationship which imply an intention to confer a distinct share in the land to each co-owner and therefore create a tenancy in common. In order to resolve this uncertainty, the land titles office in most states requires co-owners to specifically state the character of their co-ownership upon the land transfer documents. Each joint tenant is seised of the entire estate, and consequently, each is subject to the like seisin of the other. In order to satisfy unity of interest, it must also be proven that the interests of each joint tenant are identical in quantity. If A then conveys her interest over to C, so that B and C own the property jointly, the co-ownership relationship between B and C cannot constitute a joint tenancy, because B acquired her interest pursuant to a different instrument: hence, there is no unity of title. Joint tenancy occurs when two or more people hold title to real estate jointly, with equal rights to enjoy the property during their lives. When you’re able to, you can increase your share in the house bit-by-bit until you own it all. Estate taxes and probate fees could diminish the value of that property if no other planning has take… The position has been aptly summarised by Latham CJ in the High Court decision of Wright v Gibbons (1949) 78 CLR 313 (pp 320–35): X dies in 1998 and the interests of A and B are vested in possession. However, the fact that one co-owner holds an additional future estate as well as the interest under the co-ownership does not mean that unity of interest does not exist. Co-ownership is not concerned with different types of estates and interests but rather with ownership of a single estate or interest by two or more persons. This allows transfer of title from two or more joint tenants to the surviving owner after the death of the other. A and B co-own the land but not as joint tenants because there is no unity of time. Co-ownership of legal title can only be through a joint tenancy (s. 1 (6) Law of Property Act 1925). Indeed, the courts may always find that a legal joint tenancy is in fact held as a beneficial or equitable  tenancy in common. A joint tenancy is a form of co-ownership where each co-owner holds a part of the entire estate but not a separate, proportionate share. (b)   Example 2—A conveys a fee simple in land to B and C jointly, making the interest of C conditional upon him attaining the age of 25. It is a bit of a misnomer to talk of the creation of co-owner relationships when a relationship of some sort must automatically arise wherever land has been transferred to two joint owners. The fact that two or more persons own a single piece of land does not mean that the interest is no longer defined by the right to exclude. The parties own real property, and improvements on that property, located in the county of , state of , and more particularly described in Exhibit A (the "Property") as tenants in … 16.2   Types of co-ownership The relationship is a tenancy in common because there is no unity of interest. Freehold co-owners are described as joint tenants or tenants in common. The functioning of these deeming provisions is somewhat unclear because of the words ‘persons who are registered as joint proprietors’. The law in relation to co-ownership must be considered from the perspective of the distinction between legal and equitable ownership. It protects the owner if a problem is discovered after the search is completed. 16.2.6   Other forms of co-ownership: coparcenary There are three main ways to own real property jointly: Joint Tenancy; Tenancy in Common; Tenancy by the … The parties may agree that the ownership is severed in a way that is not formally recorded in writing. An application may be made for partition, sale and/or for an order to account for adjustments of entitlement between owners. This dual benefit/burden can only be assumed by a living person. When a property owner dies, whoever inherits the land takes title under her own name. It is a bit of a misnomer to talk of the creation of co-owner relationships when a relationship of some sort must automatically arise wherever land has been transferred to two joint owners. Upon B’s subsequent death, C will be seised of the entire estate and, as no mutual ownership continues, the joint tenancy will cease. Upon B’s subsequent death, C will be seised of the entire estate and, as no mutual ownership continues, the joint tenancy will cease. However, the fact that one co-owner holds an additional future estate as well as the interest under the co-ownership does not mean that unity of interest does not exist. A tenancy in common usually arises because the co-owner relationship does not constitute a joint tenancy because one or more of the four unities are not present: Co-ownership of property occurs when two … In contrast with joint tenancy, tenants in common each have a separate share. Hence, one joint tenant holds the whole estate jointly with the remaining joint tenants, but individually holds nothing except the right to jointly use, possess and enjoy the land subject to the like rights of the other joint tenant(s). Yet the best practice is to remove the deceased owner’s name from the … For example, the owner of land may hold a fee simple reversion in the land whilst a third party retains a leasehold interest. Many Minnesota counties keep records in digital (computer-readable) format while others keep them as paper records. A tenancy in common is a form of co-ownership which confers a proportionate share of the estate upon each co-owner and, unlike the joint tenancy, does not require unity and conformity between each co-owner’s interest, although unity of interest or title may fortuitously exist. This gives the co-owner an ultimate means of realising the value of his share in the property, particularly, if he is excluded, by his co-owners. Use Land Title's office locator map to find the location nearest you. The focus of co-ownership is upon mutual ownership. Interests in land may also be fragmented according to the jurisdiction in which they are enforced. 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