Buyers December 27, 2022

Homeownership Terms to Know: Rent-Back Agreement, Joint Tenancy & More

From the outside, buying a home may seem like a zero-sum game: the seller relinquishes ownership of a property to the buyer in exchange for money and the buyer becomes the property’s new outright owner. However, there’s more nuance to homeownership than meets the eye. The following homeownership agreements provide alternatives to a traditional home purchase. These options may be right for you when searching for your next home.

Homeownership Terms to Know

Rent-Back Agreement

A rent-back agreement (also known as a sale lease-back) is tailor-made for homeowners who are buying a home while selling their current one. Buying a home and selling a home are both significant undertakings in their own right, but when combined, everything is heightened. For all your planning, successfully executing both transactions is predicated on a variety of factors, including the local market conditions in both places.

A rent-back agreement is a clause in the sales contract that allows the seller to rent their old home from the buyer for an agreed-upon period of time before the buyer moves in. The agreement will include the length of the rental period and the seller’s rental costs, while spelling out the responsibilities of each party during the transition.

These agreements are mutually beneficial to buyers and sellers. Not only do sellers buy themselves time to find their new home, they collect proceeds from the sale of their current one, which can be used to help fund their new home purchase when the time comes. The money collected from sellers’ rent payments is an obvious bonus for buyers. And in a competitive market, making an offer that gives the seller flexibility in their moving timeline may help it stand out amongst the competition.


A real estate agent tours a home with two buyers. They have a brief meeting in the living room where the agent shows them paperwork for the home purchase.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: FG Trade


Joint Tenancy

When two or more people purchase a property together, Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS) requires that all co-buyers hold an equal interest in the property and that they all come into ownership through the same title at the same time. If one co-owner dies, ownership passes to the other co-owner—this is known as Right of Survivorship.

This form of co-buying a home presents an opportunity to prospective home buyers who may not yet have the means to purchase a home on their own by combining their buying power with that of their co-buyer. However, entering a real estate transaction with a co-buyer means that you’re financially tied together, which opens the door for added risk.

Tenancy In Common

When co-buyers hold a title as tenants in common, shares of the property can be divided equally or unequally. But even with a disparity in ownership percentage, no one owner may claim sole ownership of the property. When a tenant in common passes away, their ownership is bequeathed to their designated heir.

Tenancy In Severalty

Unlike Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common, Tenancy in Severalty represents an agreement in which one individual, corporation, or entity owns the property and does not share ownership with anyone.