The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
Severance is the process by which a joint tenancy is converted into a tenancy in common. It is a matter of evidence whether severance has occurred.
There are limitations:
there can be no severance by will
only a beneficial joint tenancy can be severed, not the legal ownership as trustee
The consent of the other joint tenants is not required for an individual co-owner to sever a joint tenancy. Any joint tenant can sever the tenancy at any time.
Severance may be effected by statutory written notice under Law of Property Act 1925, s 36(2) (LPA 1925). This is the method most commonly used. It is a standard step to take when advising on relationship breakdown. The notice need not be in any particular form; it need not even use the term severance provided that it shows an immediate intention to terminate the joint tenancy. The fact that the whereabouts of the recipient are not known or that he or she does not actually receive or read the notice, is not necessarily fatal.
In Quigley, the High Court held that court documentation served by a joint tenant in Court of Protection proceedings, acknowledging that she owned a 50% share in a property, constituted notice of severance of a joint tenancy.
LPA 1925, s 196 governs service of the notice. Notice
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