In Texas, there is often more than one owner to real estate. This is commonly seen in cases of partitioning, when one property owner desires to force other co-owners to sell the property or divide it. Two of the most common forms of joint ownership of property in Texas are joint tenancies and tenancies-in-common.
A tenancy-in-common is the default form of co-ownership. It occurs when the co-owners both hold a right to possess the property. When one owner passes away, their share of the property will be transferred accordingly, usually descending to the stated heirs in their will. In the absence of a will, the rules of intestacy will be implemented.
Joint tenancies, however, include a right of survivorship. When the death of one owner occurs, their share of the property will pass to the surviving co-owners and cannot be given through a will. Once all the joint owners pass away, the joint tenancy is dissolved. Texas does not automatically recognize joint tenancies and will assume that a joint ownership is a tenancy-in-common unless all parties have agreed upon it in writing.
It is crucial to understand the differences across various forms of joint ownership, as many ownership dispute cases are preventable.
Joint owners also have many rights and obligations, including income from property, expenses of the property, rights of reimbursement, and the right to access and possession.
Income from property typically allows each joint owner a right to their share of any rent paid by third party and any profit the land may bring about, including any resources from the land. The share of profits received depends on how large the share of the owner is.
Improvements to the property are generally only paid for by the owner that agreed to do so. Co-owners may improve a property without the consent of the other co-owners if it does not injure the rights of the others. However, repairs and expenses would be split between co-owners, depending on their share of the property. Each co-owner must also pay their share of taxes on the property.
When a co-owner receives income or pays any expenses, it is typical for reimbursement to occur. It usually occurs when a joint owner makes a necessary repair, receives rent, or pays the mortgage. In addition, reimbursement can occur when the shared property is divided. The division of property is allowed in both joint tenancy and tenancy-in-common.
The right to access and possession allows the co-owner to enter and use the property. This right is not changed even if one co-owner owns a larger portion of the property than another co-owner. However, this rule does not apply to third parties.