Tenancy in Common, Joint Tenancy and Pie

There often can be some confusion between these two forms of joint ownership: Tenancy in Common and Joint Tenancy. Laura Holland, Senior Counsel at Drysdale Bacon McStravick LLP, shares the distinction between the two on their newsletter, ‘The Real Estate Primer’.

Now, you’re probably wondering what’s the deal about the pie…

An easy way to remember, but more importantly to understand the term, Tenancy in Common, is to compare it to a pie. Apple, pecan, blueberry, or cherry – picture your perfect pie which will represent a home ownership. You, John, Sarah, and Joe all want to devour that pie equally. There are 4 people who will each receive a quarter of the pie, which represents a ¼ of ownership of the home. Another example is cutting the pie into two halves – for you and Joe, each owning an equal 50% of the property.

Tenancy-in-Common ownership is very common for business associates or unrelated parties looking to purchase property. In the event of the death of an owner, that portion of the pie, according to their Will, will be passed on to their beneficiaries.

In Joint Tenancy, there is no need for a cake knife. You and Joe can sit there devouring the pie together straight from the plate. No slicing needed – although, maybe just a fork and some napkins! You and Joe own the entire property, together. Of course, there is always room for more forks in the pie, but you are all together, an owner of the property. No cutting of the pie is needed.

In the event of the death of an owner in Joint Tenancy, the survivor continues to own 100% of the property and 100% of the pie.


That’s the defining difference between Tenancy in Common and Joint Tenancy.

Time to treat yourself to a slice of pie, or maybe a whole one!