Under common law systems, a concurrent estate, also known as co-tenancy refers to a concept under property law that defines different methods that a property is able to be owned by multiple individuals at the same time. If a property is owned by more than a single individual, they are frequently called co-owners of the property. Meanwhile, the legal term referring to co-owners within real estate is either joint tenants and/or co-tenants, while the former signifies the right of survivorship.
The majority of jurisdictions with common law systems recognize tenancies in both joint and common tenancies, while some will recognize tenancies as an entirety, thus, a joint tenancy that exists between married individuals. Also, it is common in many jurisdictions that joint tenancy is referred to as joint tenancy with a right for survivorship, but these terms refer to the same laws. All joint tenancies involve the right of survivorship. However, tenancies in common do not involve the right of survivorship.
The right of co-owners is not affected by the form of co-ownership when it comes to selling fractional interest within the owned property to another party during the lifetime of either co-owner. However, it can affect the power of willing the property to devisees at the time of death under joint tenant circumstances. Although, this can be changed by any joint tenant by serving joint tenancy, which occurs every time a joint tenant decides to transfer their fractional interest within the property. The concurrent estate laws can vary between jurisdictions.
Co-Owner Rights and Duties (Generalized)
Generally, jurisdictions with common law systems follow these general rights and duties, shared by co-owners:
- Each owner possesses unrestricted rights for accessing the property. When either co-owner wrongfully excludes the other from accessing and/or using the shared property, any excluded co-owner is able to take a cause of action to court for ‘ouster’. The courts can rule in favor of the wronged co-owner, granting them to receive fair rental value for the property during the length of time they was ousted from the property.
- Each owner possesses the right to accounting of profits earned from the property. If income is received form the property, such as farming or rent, the co-owners are entitled to receive a pro-rata share of the generated revenues.
- Each owner possesses the right of contribution of expenses with owning said property. Therefore, co-owners can be legally forced to help contribute to expenses, including required maintenance, property taxes, repairs, and mortgages for the whole property.
When property is co-owned by two or more tenants, each owner can be held legally responsible under common law to contribute to expenses of the property, while sharing income generated from the property.
Usually, co-ownership does not obligate any co-owner to contribute to costs for improving the property. Therefore, if a single co-owner decides to add an extra feature which improves the property value, other co-owners are not required to share this cost, as there is no right to demand. However, other co-owners may still collect increased profits.
Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common ABKJ Lawyers. Retrieved on 2014-10-07.