Tenants in Common

large country house

When non-married persons hold title to real property, most commonly the property is held as tenants in common.  This gives each owner both the right to use the property and the obligation to pay the costs of operating it.

Income property partners don’t usually fight about money, mostly because the income will offset most if not all of the operating costs.  However, nonmarried owners who jointly own a property that only one co-owner is living in (including some divorced couples) may not be aware of the continuing obligation to pay for their half of debt service, taxes, insurance and repairs and maintenance for the property.

Examples Of Tenants In Common

I currently represent two clients each of which owns a property jointly with an ex.  In one case, the nonmarried owners separated shortly after purchasing the home together.  The ex-boyfriend left and my client has been paying all of the costs for the home.  She would like to sell the property but the ex-boyfriend is demanding equity that doesn’t actually exist to cooperate in a sale.  I just sent him a bill for approximately $75,000 in debt service and other costs.  By the way my client doesn’t owe the ex any rent for her use of the property.

The second is an ex-husband whose divorce decree did not assign responsibility for the jointly owned real property.  (Be aware that upon a divorce, the property ownership of a husband and wife becomes that of tenants in common.) Ex-wife left the property 14 years ago.  Ex-husband needs to sell the property to move into a long term care facility.  I just sent the ex-wife a bill for $95,000.  Ouch.

Leave a Reply