Severing a Joint Tenancy
If you own a property with someone else, you need to know whether you own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common. If you own it as tenants in common, you should consider severing the joint tenancy of the property. Our expert solicitors can assist on all aspects of family law.
Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common?
Where a property is held by two or more people, it can be held as either Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. What is the difference?
Joint Tenants: This means that if owner X dies, their share of the property will automatically pass to owner Y, and vice versa, irrespective of what owner X’s will says.
Tenants in Common: This means that if owner X dies, their share of the property will pass under their will or under the rules of intestacy if they don’t have a will. E.g Owner X may have put in their will that they want their percentage share of the property to go to their sister instead of to their other co-owner.
To establish whether you own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common, you should ask the solicitor who dealt with the conveyancing, i.e the solicitor who dealt with the purchase of the property.
If you hold the property as tenants in common, the following wording will normally be on the title deeds:
"No disposition by a sole proprietor of the registered estate (except a trust corporation) under which capital money arises is to be registered unless authorised by an order of the court”.
Should I Sever the Joint Tenancy?
Many couples usually hold their family home as joint tenants. However, when the relationship breaks down, they may not want their share in the property to pass automatically to the other owner if they died. If so, then it is advisable to sever the joint tenancy. A will also need to be created to ensure that it is clear who the share of the property should pass to in the event that the person dies.
How to Sever the Joint Tenancy?
Severing the Joint Tenancy can be a simple task. A Notice of Severance will need to be served upon the other owner. This could be done by sending the Notice of Severance to the other party in the post and asking that they sign and date the notice themselves and return it.
Upon return of the Notice of Severance, signed and dated by both parties, this will then need to be sent to the Land Registry so that they can amend the title deeds. The Land Registry do not charge a fee.
What happens if the other party fails to return the Notice of Severance?
The Land Registry will only agree to amend the title deeds if they are persuaded that the Notice of Severance has been served on the other party. The best way to prove this is by providing a Notice of Severance which has been signed and dated by the other party.
However, if the other owner does not respond to the notice, the Land Registry ae likely to amend the title deeds if they are satisfied that the Notice of Severance has been served on the other party, e.g by providing recorded delivery evidence.
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