Tenancy in Common – a tenancy by two or more persons, in equal or unequal undivided shares, each person having an equal right to possess the whole property but no right of survivorship

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tenancy in common:

1. A tenancy by two or more persons, in equal or unequal undivided shares, each person having an equal right to possess the whole property but no right of survivorship. — aka common tenancy; estate in common.  Cf. joint tenancy. [1]

1. That tenancy whereby two more more persons are entitled to land in such manner that they have an undivided possession, but several freeholds or interest.  20 Am J2d Coten § 22.

A tenancy characterized by a single essential unity — that of possession, or the right to possession, of the common property.  20 Am J2d Coten § 23.
     A tenancy in common of personal property is essentially similar to such a tenancy of real property, each tenant in common owning and possessing an undivided interest in the whole property.  Re Engel’s Estate, 413 Pa 475, 198 A2d 505. [2]

1. A tenancy in which two more more persons own an undivided interest in an estate in land, for EXAMPLE, in a fee simple estate or a life estate, or in personal property, for EXAMPLE, in a savings account.  As opposed to joint tenants, tenants in common have no right to survivorship; when a tenant in common dies, her interest passes to her heirs rather than to her cotenant or cotenants. [3]

     Excerpt from A.C. Freeman’s Cotenancy and Partition (2d ed. 1886):

     “If there be a doubt whether an estate was, at its creation, a joint-tenancy or a tenancy in common; or if, conceding the estate to have been a joint-tenancy at its creation, there be a doubt whether there has not been a subsequent severance of the jointure in all such cases equity will resolve the doubt in favor of tenancy in common. [4]

       Excerpt from Thomas F. Bergin and Paul G. Haskell’s Preface to Estates in Land and Future Interests (2d ed. 1984):

     “The central characteristic of a tenancy in common is simply that each tenant is deemed to own by himself, with most of the attributes of independent ownership, a physically undivided part of the entire parcel. [5]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: A.C. Freeman, Cotenancy and Partition 67 (2d ed. 1886).

[5]: Thomas F. Bergin & Paul G. Haskell, Preface to Estates in Land and Future Interests 54 (2d ed. 1984).


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