joint and several liability

A situation when more than one party is liable for repayment of a debt or obligation. A creditor can obtain compensation from one or more parties, either individually or jointly. (See liability)

joint tenancy

An estate or unit of interest in real estate that is owned by two or more natural persons with rights of survivorship. Only on title exists, and it is vested in a unit made up of two or more persons, all owning equal shares. The basic idea of a joint tenancy is unity of ownership; title is held as though all owners collectively constituted one person, a fictitious entity. The death of one joint tenant does not destroy the owning unit--it only reduces by one the number of persons who jointly own the unit. The remaining joint tenants receive the deceased tenant's interest by the right of survivorship. Thus, the decedent's interest cannot be transferred by will or descent. As each successive joint tenant dies, the remaining tenants acquire the interest of the deceased. The last survivor takes title in severalty, fully inheritable at his or her death by heirs and devisees. (See four unities)

joint venture

The joining of two or more people to conduct a specific business enterprise. A joint venture is similar to a partnership in that it must be created by agreement between the parties to share in the losses and profits of the venture. It is unlike a partnership in that the venture is for one specific project only, rather than for a continuing business relationship. (See partnership)


The formal decision of a court on the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit. A judgment that has been entered and recorded with the county recorder usually becomes a general lien on the property of the defendant.

judgment creditor

One who has received a court decree or "judgment" for money due from the "judgment debtor." Example: to enforce the judgment awarded by the court, the "judgment creditor" filed a "lien" against the "judgment debtor," Abel.

judgment debtor

One against whom a "judgment" has been issued by a court for money owed, and that remains unsatisfied. Example: A judgment was entered into against Abel for non-payment of rent. Abel is the "judgment debtor."

judgment decree

Specifies the award made by the court in a civil case.

judgment lien

A general lien on the property of a judgment debtor, giving the holder of the judgment a right to levy the property to satisfy the debt. (See general lien)

judgment lien

The claim upon the property of a debtor resulting from a "judgment." Example: Abel won't pay his debt to Baker. After establishing the debt in court, Baker may be allowed by the court to put a "judgment lien" on Abel's "real estate."

judicial foreclosure

A method of foreclosing on real property by means of a court-supervised sale. In a judicial foreclosure, there is an appraisal, after which the court determines an upset price below which no bids to purchase will be accepted. (See nonjudicial foreclosure, strict foreclosure)

judicial precedent

In law, the requirements established by prior court decisions.

jumbo loan

A "jumbo" loan is any loan that exceeds the underwriting guidelines for Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac maximum loan limits. (See non-conforming loan, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac)

junior lien/mortgage

An obligation, such as a second mortgage, that is subordinate in right or lien priority to an existing lien (senior loan) on the same real estate. (See senior lien/loan)


The collection of legal decisions out of which legal principles or rule emerge.