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When title to a property is shared by more than one person, one of a number of different types of legal tenancy is formed. The most common types used to title property are joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and tenancy by the entirety. The main differences between the different types of title to a property are whether or not the owners have a right of survivorship and how many people, or who, may own the property. The term "tenancy" may also be used to refer to the legal position held by a renter, such as a residential, commercial, shorthold, or periodic tenant.
When a property is purchased, or deeded, to more than one person, a determination regarding how the property will be held must be made. When the owners of the property are husband and wife, a tenancy by the entirety is often chosen as it cannot be used by other co-owners. This type of title is marked by the fact that neither spouse may sell or encumber the property without the consent of the other. A right of survivorship is also part of this type of ownership.
Joint tenancy may be held by two people, without the requirement that they be married or related in any way. Each owner has equal rights to the property and has a right to survivorship. Tenants in common, on the other hand, do not have rights of survivorship; however, a property held as tenants in common may be held by more than two people.
When used to refer to tenants who are leasing property, a residential tenant is someone who is renting a home, apartment, or other property used to live in, while a commercial tenant is someone who is renting a property to be used for business purposes. A periodic tenancy refers to a lease term that has no end, such as a month-to-month lease. A shorthold tenancy is a term used in the United Kingdom for the most common form of lease arrangement. A shorthold tenant usually has an agreed upon term of at least six months and an agreed upon rental rate than cannot be changed during that time period.