Despite both referring to methods of buying and a holding a property on a fractional basis, there is a clear distinction between a joint tenancy and a tenancy in common since the two are different legal terms in relationship to property ownership. In joint tenancy, a person may be holding a fraction of the house; however, his rights of ownership with the property are in their entirety. According to Sealey and Hooley (2008), the owner in joint tenancy must have equal ownership to the property due to the element of unity of interest; however, tenancy in common lacks the unity of interest and each owner can have whatever percentage of the property. Whereas the owners of the property under joint tenancy must come into the possession of the property in the same time or at the same closing, the members of the property under tenancy in common have separate opening and closing dates. If one member of the property dies under joint tenancy ownership, his portion of the ownership is distributed to the remaining owners under the principle of last man standing rule (Sealy & Hooley, 2008). On the other hand, the tenancy is common does not have the rights of survivorship under the principle of last man standing, such that when one person dies, the property is not distributed to the remaining owners.
One can easily change the ownership from either tenant in common to joint tenants, especially if one gets married and wants to have an equal right to the property or from joint tenant to tenants in common, especially when people divorce. The distinction is very important since these types of ownerships results to different rights and privileges that needs to be understood by the property owners.