Joint tenancy is a common way for multiple individuals to own property together. In a joint tenancy arrangement, all co-owners, known as joint tenants, hold an undivided interest in the property. This means that each joint tenant has an equal right to the property, and if one tenant passes away, their share automatically transfers to the surviving joint tenants.
While joint tenancy provides advantages such as automatic transfer of ownership and avoidance of probate, it raises questions about whether a joint tenant can lease or rent out the property without the consent of the other joint tenants.
Understanding Joint Tenancy
Joint tenancy has three basic features that are important to understand before delving into the leasing of jointly held property.
All joint tenants hold an equal ownership interest in the property. This means that each tenant has an undivided share, and no one joint tenant can claim a specific portion of the property exclusively.
Right of Survivorship:
One of the significant advantages of joint tenancy is the right of survivorship. When a joint tenant passes away, their share automatically transfers to the surviving joint tenants. This process continues until only one joint tenant remains, making them the sole owner.
Because of the right of survivorship, joint tenancy helps avoid probate proceedings, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
Can One Joint Tenant Lease the Property?
The answer to whether one joint tenant can lease the property without the consent of the other joint tenants depends on the laws of the jurisdiction where the property is located and the specific terms in the joint tenancy agreement, if any.
Right to Exclusive Possession
In a traditional joint tenancy, all joint tenants have an equal right to the possession and use of the entire property. This implies that one joint tenant cannot lease or rent out the property without the consent of the other joint tenants. Doing so would effectively deny the other joint tenants their equal right to access and use the property.
Generally, any decision affecting the property, including leasing, would require unanimous consent from all joint tenants. If one joint tenant wishes to lease the property, they must get approval from all other co-owners.
Severance of Joint Tenancy
In some jurisdictions, a joint tenant may seek to sever the joint tenancy by converting it into a tenancy in common. Here, the co-owner would then have the right to lease or transfer their share of the property without the approval of the other owners. However, this process may have legal and tax implications.
The Bottom Line
Usually, in a traditional joint tenancy, one joint tenant cannot lease the property without the consent of the other joint tenants. The core principle of joint tenancy is equal ownership and equal right to use the property. Any decisions affecting the property, including leasing, typically require unanimous consent from all joint tenants.
If one joint tenant wishes to lease the property, they should discuss their intentions with the other joint tenants and get their approval. Alternatively, in some jurisdictions, a joint tenant may explore the option of severing the joint tenancy to gain greater control over their share of the property. However, this should be done only after seeking legal advice and understanding the potential consequences.
This material is for general information and educational purposes only. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor.
Realized does not provide tax or legal advice. This material is not a substitute for seeking the advice of a qualified professional for your individual situation.