Types of Property Ownerships

By Valerie Starling
Types of Property Ownerships
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Chris Griffith

There are various types of property ownership. Since that is the case, it is very important to know what type of ownership agreement you are obtaining before you purchase property because you are entering into a legal contract. In order to be prepared for what each type of property ownership agreement entails, you may want to familiarize yourself with the conditions and details each contract requires.


There are five types of property ownership: tenancy in severalty, joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety, tenancy in common and community property. When you decide to purchase any real estate, including land or established property, such as a house or building, you need to be aware of what type of property ownership agreement you are entering into. Once you have that information, you will be able to understand the ownership rights you have regarding the property purchased.


Property ownership such as tenancy in severalty (sole ownership) pertains to a property that is owned by one person. This individual owns the property free and clear and does not share any interest in the property with anyone else.

Joint tenancy is a type of property ownership that consists of two or more people who own a piece of real estate with undivided interest. There is no percentage of property possession rights that goes to anyone involved in the purchase since this type of ownership is meant to establish equal ownership rights among all parties buying the property.

Tenancy by the entirety is a form of property ownership that is made when a husband and wife purchase real estate property. This type of property ownership is only valid between married couples, in any other case or scenario, such as two people who want to own a property as one entity or with undivided interest, joint tenancy may be considered instead. It is important to keep in mind that 41 states recognize this type of ownership.

According to AARP.org, states such as California, Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin are known as "community property" states, which means that property owned by married couples in these states is divided, giving each spouse a 50 percent interest share in the property.

Tenancy in common is another form of property ownership and it pertains to piece of land or real estate property that is owned by two or more people with equal interest split among them. A couple of examples of tenancy of common would be two people owning a piece of land with 50 percent ownership interest each or four people owning a house with 25 percent property interest a piece.

Creation & Title Rights

The creation of tenancy in severalty property ownership happens at the time the sole owner purchases the property. There is only one title given since there is only one person involved in the purchase with the intent of having 100 percent sole interest in the property.

Joint tenancy is created when two or more parties make it clear that they are interested in joint ownership of a property with undivided interest among them. There is only one title given because the people involved in the purchase own the property, as well as, share possession and title rights as one unit.

Tenancy by the entirety is automatically created when a husband and wife purchase real estate property together. There is only one title given, since the purchase was made as a married unit.

Tenancy in common is created when two or more people purchase a piece of property with equal interest. In most scenarios, tenancy in common results in equal interest being split among the purchasing parties. However, there are cases where interest in the property may be divided unequally, such as one party owning 25 percent of the property interest while the other party owns 75 percent. Each person involved in a tenancy in common property agreement receives an individual legal title.

Conveyance & Death Effects

Conveyance of title in property ownership agreements such as joint tenancy and tenancy in common result in tenancy in common status for whoever purchases the property interest. If one of the parties involved in either type of these property ownership agreements dies, the property belongs to the surviving co-tenants and is not subject to probate or can be given to another in the will of the deceased party.

In tenancy in severalty property ownership agreements, conveyance of title has no restrictions unless the owner got married after purchasing the property, which may make the title subject to marital rights of spouse. If the sole owner dies, the property can be given away in accordance to the deceased party's will and becomes subject to probate and government taxes.

Titles granted in tenancy by the entirety property ownership agreements cannot be given given to another without the spouse's consent. If the husband or wife dies, the property belongs to the surviving spouse.

Creditor Rights

Property under a tenancy in severalty agreement is subject to all creditor claims.

Property under a joint tenancy agreement is subject to creditor claims regarding the interest owned by the debtor. The creditor becomes a tenant in common because the joint tenancy is broken once the interest of the debtor is conveyed to the creditor. However, the creditor gets nothing if the party in debt dies before the sale of property.

Property under a tenancy by entirety agreement is subject to creditor claims if the debt claim is against both spouses.

Property under a tenancy in common ownership agreement is subject to the sale of the debtor's property interest to the creditor. As a result, the creditor becomes a tenant in common.

About the Author

Valerie Starling is an entrepreneur, journalist and screenwriter. She specializes in concise and accurate research, ensuring quality and satisfaction for readers and publishers alike. She attended Essex County College, where she majored in real estate, and her articles have appeared on a variety of websites.