Cotenancy Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Cotenancy, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Cotenancy?

A situation when two or more people hold a title to a common property and thereby have a common interest in the property as in joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety etc.

History and Meaning of Cotenancy

Cotenancy has its roots in English common law and is a term used in real estate law. It refers to the situation where two or more people hold title to a property jointly. Each owner has an undivided interest in the property and a right to occupy and use the entire property. This means that no one co-owner has the right to exclude the others from any particular part of the property; rather, each co-owner shares an equal interest in the whole property.

Examples of Cotenancy

  1. Two siblings inherit a house from their parents and hold the title as cotenants.
  2. Three friends buy a vacation home together and become cotenants of the property.
  3. A married couple purchases a property together and holds it in a joint tenancy.

Legal Terms Similar to Cotenancy

  1. Joint tenancy - Like cotenancy, two or more people hold an undivided interest in a property, but the key difference is that when one owner dies, their share passes to the surviving co-owners.
  2. Tenancy by the entirety - Similar to joint tenancy, this form of ownership applies to married couples and offers additional asset protection benefits.
  3. Community property - Generally applicable in certain states, community property rules dictate that any assets acquired during a marriage are owned equally by both spouses.