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Types of Tenancy in Georgia

By Elizabeth Elstien

Buying property? Georgia allows individuals, multiple persons or legal entities to own and pass on real estate to one or more persons. Your real estate agent, lender and title company are going to ask how you want to take title on the property you are buying. Understand the three main ways to take title in Georgia and be prepared before you go house hunting.

Sole Ownership

A property is owned solely by one individual or legal entity who then has all rights and obligations of an owner. The owner can live in, will, rent, sell and otherwise use the property as deemed necessary within the law.

Tenancy in Common

Two or more owners hold title to a property together. Each owner may hold a different percentage in the property that must be stated in the deed of conveyance. Owners can will their property percentage to heirs, provided there is no "Right of Survivorship" clause (see below). A Tenancy in Common is often used in business deals with an investment property that both owners may profit on. Also used for unmarried couples that want to own a home together but who may wish to separate their property percentage from their partner, perhaps to will their percentage to children of a previous marriage or for any other reason. Each co-owner has the same basic rights as that of a sole owner but only with their percentage of the property. In case of a difference of opinion on the use or sale of the property, a lawsuit may be filed to settle matters if the co-owners cannot settle the dispute on their own in a friendly manner.

Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship.

A second way for two or more people to take title to a property, most commonly used for married couples. However, as the name implies, if a joint tenant dies, the remaining joint tenant(s) automatically acquires their interest. Interest is divided equally among all tenants. Rights and obligations generally are the same as for Tenants in Common, but property interest cannot be willed to any party. "Right of Survivorship" must be specifically spelled out in the deed of conveyance.

Aside from rights and obligations, there are certain accounting and creditor issues associated with each way of holding title. A prospective homeowner may want to seek advice from a tax adviser or legal counsel.

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