Tenancy by the Entirety

Reviewed by Annapoorna | Updated on Aug 27, 2020

What is Tenancy by Entirety (TBE)?

For certain states, Tenants by Entirety (TBE) is a system by which married couples may hold the title to a house. For one partner to change his or her interest in the property in some way, it requires the consent of both the spouses in full. It also specifies that the surviving partner shall gain full ownership of the property if one partner passes away.

Tenancy by Entirety Explained

Any title-holding affects the rights of each owner to sell the property and use it as collateral. The structure of ownership also determines what happens to the property when one spouse dies. It also covers whether the property can be used to satisfy a debt or judgement.

Approximately half of the U.S. states require tenancy by entirety for all forms of land. Only a handful of states permit it for house properties. Other possible structures at the choice of a spouse to own property jointly include common tenancy and joint tenancy.

For example, without the permission of the wife, a husband may not agree to sell its ownership interest in a vacation home shared with his wife.

Property which is wholly owned by tenants is comparable with community property. All partners are jointly in control of the property as a whole, rather than any section where each of them will have sole ownership. The tenants' rights in their entirety will supersede the terms set out in a will or trust that could otherwise give heirs the property upon the death of either of the spouses.

For instance, the will left by a deceased party may say they want one of their living children to take possession of a piece of property. Unless the property is held jointly by the spouse of the decedent and falls under the terms of the tenants by entirety, the terms of the will are to be ignored. The spouse who survived would maintain sole possession of the house.

Absolutely the arrangement of the tenants by entirety means that creditors who may have claims against the properties of one partner cannot seek the jointly owned property for compensation. If both partners hold joint liability with creditors, they may be entitled to retain the jointly owned properties.

Existence of Tenancy by Entirety in India

TBE form of ownership is exclusively for property shared by legally married individuals. The right of survivor also operates in full in the case of the tenancy. In the event of one's death, their value is passed on automatically to another. Similarly, in the case of joint occupancy, tenants will occupy the property in full at the same time, along with equal interest, by one sale deed.

One should also not sell the property without the other being on board for sale. In the case of divorce, death or mutual consent, a tenancy by entirety is dissolved.

For example, Ram Charana has bought a property after his marriage to Geeta Devi. The two will be full tenants. His property share will automatically pass over to Geeta Devi in the event of his death. If the two agree to take a divorce, the ownership contract will turn into a tenancy by the entirety.