Real Estate Tenancies

Real Estate Tenancies

Real estate tenancies mostly refer to the ownership of land. There are a variety of ways that land can be divided and owned. Here, we will outline a few of the most common tenancies in real estate. In many cases, these tenancies vary greatly by state, so it is important to do your own research to find out what laws are applicable to yours.

Tenancy in severalty

Tenancy in severalty refers to single ownership. In this case, one person or company has exclusive rights of ownership over a property and does not share expenses or profits associated with the property.

Tenancy in common

Tenancy in common refers to the sharing of ownership by two or more persons. In this case, each person owns an undivided interest in the land, or a fraction of each piece. All members share expenses and profits, and no one can sell a portion of the land without the consent of all in the party.

Joint tenancy

Joint tenancy is very similar to tenancy in common with one major difference. Joint tenancy carries the right of survivorship—which means that if the tenant dies, his or her shares will be divided among the other tenants.

Tenancy by the entireties

This tenancy is exclusive to married couples. It allows the same benefits of joint tenancy but also protects against foreclosure or debt incurred by other tenants. This form of tenancy is not used in all states.

Community property

This is only used in a few states but basically says that half of all property acquired by a husband or wife during a marriage belongs to each partner.


Condominium legally refers to a kind of ownership, not any particular building or architectural style. In condominium ownership, someone has rights of ownership to a part of a larger piece of property, typically a building. In residential properties, condominium ownership would allow the owner of his or her piece to use it as they please, but they would have no rights to other pieces of the building.

Cooperative ownership

Cooperative ownership is not very popular outside of large cities. Under cooperative ownership, instead of owning a unit in a building each person in the building pays monthly assessments to the cooperative corporation, which then handles payment of taxes, mortgage, fees, etc. A major danger in this arrangement is that if any members do not pay their share, then other members must pay more to cover expenses.

Tenancy at will

Tenancy at will refers to a lease agreement in which no time frame is agreed upon. Therefore, either party may terminate the lease whenever they please (at will).

Tenancy at sufferance

Tenancy at sufferance refers to situations when tenants stay at a property beyond their lease agreement timeline. In most states, law requires that some minimum notice be given before termination of the lease agreement.

Again, this is a general list of common tenancies in real estate. These real estate tenancies vary greatly according to state law. Be sure to look into what your state guidelines are for real estate tenancies.

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