What is Tenancy in Common (TIC) in California?

Tenancy in Common is an arrangement in which 2 or more people share ownership of a single piece of real estate (aka real property). The property can have a single unit, or multiple units.

Usually, a multi-unit building is owned by one or more landlords who rent out the units to others. Or it may be designated as a condominium complex (“condos”), where each condo is legally separated or partitioned from the others. Generally each condo is considered a separate piece of real estate, owned by separate people.

However, it is becoming more common for a large group of individuals or families to get together to jointly purchase a non-condo multi-unit property, where each individual or family intends to live in one of the units. For example, if 3 individuals want to buy a triplex, each only intending to live in one of the units, they might split the ownership of the whole property 33/33/33, including costs and property taxes.

In order to facilitate this type of arrangement, a private tenancy-in-common agreement generally sets out the details of who owns what parts of the property. The agreement would specify that each owner has the right to occupy one of the units.

If there is or will be a mortgage on the property, the bank will need to approve the tenancy in common. However, very few banks participate in this arrangement. Sterling Bank and National Cooperative Bank are two that are known to offer loans for this type of situation.

How is Tenancy in Common different from Condos?

A condominium complex differs from tenancy in common in that each condo unit is recognized as legally separate by the government. In a tenancy in common, the units are not legally separate, even though the private agreement may dictate who gets to occupy each unit.

How is Tenancy in Common different from Joint Tenancy?

When a property is held in joint tenancy, all the owners must have an equal share in the property. And if one of the owners dies, their share of the property automatically transfers to the other owners, rather than to the deceased’s heirs. This is known as the right of survivorship. For example, if there are 3 owners, each with 1/3 share, and one of them dies, the other 2 owners would then own 1/2 share.

Related Pages

Guide to Laws for Homeowners

Guide to Laws for Tenants


  • Tristan Blaine

    Tristan Blaine is the founder of Law Soup Media, and has been a licensed attorney since 2013.

    About Tristan
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