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Unity Of Possession

In the context of property law, Unity of Possession is one of the traditional four unities required to establish a joint tenancy, alongside unity of interest, unity of title, and unity of time. However, it is also applicable to a tenancy in common.

For tenants in common, Unity of Possession refers to the right of each tenant to possess and enjoy the whole property despite the fact that the property is owned in parts. Each tenant in common has an undivided interest in the property, meaning that no one tenant has exclusive rights to any portion of the property. They all have the right to use and enjoy all of it, subject to the rights of the other tenants.

Unlike joint tenancy, which requires all four unities (possession, interest, title, and time) to be present, tenancy in common only requires the unity of possession. The co-owners may acquire their interests at different times (no unity of time), they can own different sizes of interests (no unity of interest), and they can acquire their interests from different transactions (no unity of title).

The concept of Unity of Possession ensures that each tenant in common has equal rights to the property as a whole and not to any individual part of it. However, the share of ownership can be unequal, and upon the death of one tenant in common, their interest in the property can be bequeathed to someone else, unlike in a joint tenancy where the right of survivorship applies, and the deceased’s share would automatically pass to the surviving joint tenants.