Tenants in common in New York is a type of property ownership that allows each owner to hold an individual interest. Owners typically use tenants in common for business and investment properties or tax purposes. The other two ownership types in New York -- joint tenancies and tenancies by the entirety -- have different rules and rights than tenants in common under state laws.
Tenants in common in New York each hold an individual interest percentage in the property. The creation of tenants in common happens in one of two ways: by the wording on the deed or by New York real estate law. Including the phrase "tenants in common" after the recipient's names on the deed creates tenants in common, and if unrelated owners buy property together and do not state the ownership type, the law presumes a tenancy in common.
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Unlike joint tenants and tenants by the entirety -- the interest of a deceased owner passes to the surviving owner -- a tenant in common's interest passes to her heirs at death.
A tenant in common can sell her interest to another party at any time and can force the sale of the property in court if the other owners don't want to sell, referred to as a partition action. New York law does not allow tenants by the entirety -- a legally married couple -- to file a partition action.
Tenants in common can hold unequal percentages of interest in the property, unlike joint tenants and tenants by the entirety, but the deed must state the interest percentages each tenant has.
New York tenants in common can draft an agreement that includes waiving or restriction the right to sue for a partition the property. If a tenant who signed such an agreement brings a partition lawsuit against the other owners in court, the judge may not order a partition because of the agreement.
While New York laws recognize tenants in common and each owner's individual right to the property, the law does not define the responsibilities of the owners. All owners carry legal liability for expenses, such as property taxes and mortgage loan payments. If one tenant will not pay his share, the others must cover the expenses or risk losing the property.
Married couples can take ownership as tenants in common in New York, but the designation has to be on the deed. A married couple without "tenants in common" on the deed become tenants by the entirety under New York laws.
- "The New York Times"; A Quick Guide to Property Titles"; Jay Romano; February 2007
- "The New York Law Journal"; Tenancy in Common Emerges, Posing Challenges; Sheri P. Chromow; Joseph Ginsberg; April 2004
- Sawyer and Demetri, Attorneys at Law: What are the Differences Between Some Common Forms of Property Ownership?