Stuart Hazell, aged 37, sounded emotional as he spoke to confirm his name and date of birth.
His voice cracked when he was asked to confirm his address, The Lindens, New Addington, south London, where Tia was found dead.
Mr Hazell appeared from Sutton police station by video link at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court.
He was dressed in a blue T-shirt and sat alone at a table with a policewoman standing behind him.
No plea was entered to the charge, which accuses him of murdering the 12-year-old girl between Aug 2 and 11.
Her body was found on Friday, a week after she was reported missing and after a search was launched for her.
Mr Hazell will appear at the Old Bailey tomorrow, when there might be a bail application. A further date for a preliminary hearing was recorded as Nov 19. No relatives appeared in court yesterday.
Mr Hazell is the partner of Tia’s grandmother Christine Sharp, 46.
She was also arrested on suspicion of murder but bailed pending further inquiries along with her next-door neighbour Paul Meehan, 39, who was bailed on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Despite officers visiting the terraced property several times, Tia’s body was only discovered hidden at her grandmother’s home on Friday night after police took a body recovery dog to the house.
Officers have apologised to Tia’s mother, Natalie Sharp, for the delay in locating the body.
Neil Basu, Metropolitan Police south east London area commander, said that human error was to blame for the protracted search and conceded mistakes were made during a second examination of Christine Sharp’s property.
A postmortem on Tia’s body was paused on Saturday night and is expected to recommence this week.
Mr Hazel’s arrest followed a massive search for Tia which involved about 100 police officers as well as countless members of the local community.
Police have not revealed where the body was stowed in Ms Sharp’s home, but officers were seen taking a ladder into the house, sparking suggestions it may have been concealed in the loft.
Mr Hazell, who was previously interviewed as a potential witness, became the subject of a manhunt following the grim find.
He was arrested hours later in the south London borough of Merton after he was apparently seen by a schoolgirl who saw him buying alcohol in an off-licence.
Christine Sharp was similarly arrested on suspicion of murder. She was later freed on bail.