Joint tenancy is defined in Section 2 of the Land Act 2012. It is a special and concurrent form of ownership by two or more persons of the same property. The individuals share equal ownership of the property and have equal undivided right to keep or dispose of the property.
Joint tenancy creates a right of survivorship which means that if any one of the joint tenants dies, the remainder of the property is automatically transferred to the surviving owner.
Four main essential elements for a Joint Tenancy are:
- The joint tenants own undivided interests in the property as a whole with each share being equal and no tenant owning a larger share of the same;
- The estates of the joint tenants are fixed and unalterable by any condition for exactly the same period of time (the tenant’s lifetime);
- The joint tenants hold their property under the same title; and
- The joint tenants all enjoy the same rights until one of them As seen under survivorship, the death of one joint tenant automatically transfers the remainder of the property to the surviving owner/owners.
Terminating Joint Tenancy
A joint tenancy can be broken if one of the co-owners transfers or sells his or her interest to another person, thus changing the ownership arrangement to a tenancy in common for all parties.
Right of Survivorship
What happens to the property when one of the owners die?
When a property is owned by joint tenants, the interest of a deceased owner gets transferred to the remaining surviving owners. For example, if three joint tenants own a house and one of them dies, the two remaining tenants each obtain a one-half share of the property. This is called the right of survivorship.