Rights and Duties of Joint Owners of Real Property

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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What Is Joint Ownership of Real Property?

Real property, such as a home or land, can be simultaneously held by two or more persons. Joint ownership of real property occurs when two or more people concurrently hold title to the same piece of land. There are three kinds of joint ownership of real property:

  1. Tenancy in Common
  2. Joint Tenancy
  3. Tenancy by the Entirety

Your rights and duties as a joint owner may vary depending on which type of joint ownership you have.

What Are My Rights as a Joint Owner of Real Property?

Theoretically, all joint owners have an equal right to possess and use the entire property, regardless of their fractional share of the whole title. In a majority of states, a joint owner may use and possess the entire property without paying rent to the other joint owner(s).  

However, if you are a joint owner in exclusive possession of property, you may not deny other joint owners use or possession of the property. Doing so may constitute ouster and result in you being liable for rent to the other joint owner(s). While you may not exclude joint owners, you do have the right to exclude all other parties from your property.  

As a joint owner, you are also entitled to a proportional share of:

The share of rent and profits that you are entitled to is proportional to the share of the property that you own.

What Are My Duties as a Joint Owner of Real Property?

As a joint owner of real property you have duties that you must fulfill. You must pay your proportional share of all mortgage payments, taxes, and other special assessments related to the property. You also have the duty to compensate your joint owners for any waste you commit against the land. Additionally, most states will hold you liable for your proportional share of any costs for necessary maintenance and repairs to the property. However, you are generally not responsible to pay for any improvements that your joint owner(s) undertook unless you previously agreed to pay for them.

Do I Need A Lawyer to Help Me With My Joint Ownership Problem?

If you have a problem with a joint owner of real property, an experienced property attorney can help advise you on what your legal rights and duties are. Your attorney will also be able to help you choose a course of action to settle such disputes, protect you from liability, and ensure that your rights are protected.

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Last Modified: 11-13-2013 10:57 AM PST

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