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Is there a difference between tenants in common and joint tenants? If so, what is it?

Yes, there is a difference between tenants in common and joint tenants.

When you own or rent a property with someone else you will usually either be tenants in common or joint tenants, depending on what type of contract you sign.

This is a very important distinction as they both have very different implications. If you both own a property and are tenants in common then you both own the property together, but each own a specific share e.g. 50% each. When you are tenants in common you can have more than two owners, each owner taking an agreed share. These shares can be anything at all, so, for example, one owner could have a 5% share, the other an 80% share and the other a 15% share. Having a tenancy in common agreement means that when you die your share in the property will go to whoever you specify in your will.

If you both own a property and are joint tenants then you own the property equally and jointly – you do not own a share as with when you are tenants in common. This means that, because there are no shares, your share cannot be separated and you have to appear as ‘one person’ for any kind of sale or remortgage. Crucially, if you die, the property will pass to the other joint tenant and you cannot specify to give your part of it to anyone else in your will.

This also has implications for renters as well as owners – if you have a joint tenancy whilst renting and the other person refuses to pay the rent for whatever reason then you will be liable for their share of the rent. This is not the case for tenants in common.

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