Joint Tenure and Titling for Spouses

Last Updated May, 2010

 

This section does not intend to address all forms of shared tenure, such as family tenure, communal tenure, community titling, and land market transactions, but rather focuses on joint titling and tenure when the state carries out land distribution programs allocating titles, uses, leases or other rights to land and housing, and for women in marriage or non-formal, conjugal unions.

 

Compulsory joint tenure

Legislation should provide for compulsory joint tenure as the default regime when conducting land or housing allocation to households or when spouses marry. In this case, both spouses will hold land and/or housing either through a joint title or by holding equal rights over the property. Non-formal unions should also be subject to compulsory joint tenure or co-ownership. See: UN-Habitat, Policy Makers Guide to Women’s Land, Property and Housing Rights across the World, 2007; UN-HABITAT, Shared Tenure Options for Women, 2005. Drafters should repeal optional joint tenure as the default regime in these cases.

Compulsory joint titling

Where states allocate lands or housing using a titling scheme or reform marital property systems, legislation should provide for compulsory joint titling of marital property, particularly in societies that bequeath land through the patrilineal side. Non-formal unions should also be subject to compulsory joint titling or to co-ownership/co-tenureship where documentation or fee requirements hinder such registration. See: Shared Tenure Options for Women  

Promising Practice: The Philippines uses co-ownership and joint ownership laws to address property acquired in non-formal unions. The laws require both parties’ consent for transactions concerning the property. See: UN-Habitat, Policy Makers Guide to Women’s Land, Property and Housing Rights across the World, 2007.

Promising Practice: Nicaragua requires joint titling of land. Also, if the title is registered only under the household head, it still recognizes joint title. See: Knox, Anna, et al., Connecting Rights to Reality: A Progressive Framework of Core Protections for Women’s Property Rights, International Center for Research on Women.