Notice of Severance of Joint Tenancy

Our Notice of Severance of Joint Tenancy template:

  • Solicitor-drafted for peace of mind
  • Full guidance notes included
  • Simple plain English
  • Easy to edit and complete
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How Does It Work?

  • 1. Download
  • 2. Edit
  • 3. Print
  • 4. Sign

Our Notice of Severance of Joint Tenancy template is for use by someone who owns a property with another person as “joint tenants” (or “beneficial joint tenants”), and who now wishes to change the basis of their ownership to “tenants in common”.

The letter is intended to be short and simple. After you have signed it and given a copy to the other owner, you need to register the change in ownership basis at the Land Registry if your property is registered land.  See the notes near the end of this guide in this regard. For further information see: www.gov.uk/joint-property-ownership/overview.

What is a joint tenancy?

Owning a property on a joint tenancy basis means that if one owner dies, the other owner(s) inherit that share automatically. You cannot leave your share in a joint tenancy property by your will – the transfer of your share takes effect separately when you die. For most people this is best, but if you want to change this, you need to sever the joint tenancy and then the property become owned on a “tenants in common” basis. You can then leave your share via your will and then there will be no automatic transfer of your share to the other owner when you die (and vice versa) – see the section headed “The need for a Will” below in this regard.

This simple letter allows you to sever the joint tenancy.

Why sever a joint tenancy?

As noted above, there are various reasons you might want to sever the joint tenancy. The 2 most common ones are:

1. If you own a property on a joint tenancy basis with your spouse but you are in relationship difficulties, e.g. separated, but not yet divorced, you might sever the joint tenancy. This is in case one of you dies before the divorce (and all the related financial arrangements) has been finalised.

Severing the joint tenancy means that, if you die before the divorce is finalised, your share of it is not simply inherited by your spouse, as your next of kin – it means you could in the meantime make a new will and leave your share of the property to someone else, e.g. your children. If divorce proceedings are started, the severance has no actual effect on the outcome of them, as the property is still owned by the two of you and so falls to be sorted out by agreement or by the court under its normal rules.

2. If you are concerned about the payment of care home fees by the survivor of the two of you, you might sever the joint tenancy.

By severing the joint tenancy, and not leaving your share of the property to the other owner in your will (so long as you have made a will), if the survivor has to go into a care home, the care fees they incur can only be taken out of their share of the property.

Thus you avoid losing the entire value of the home in care fees, and your share could be left direct to your children for example. (NB Whether the whole of the property is in fact at risk will depend on the law concerning the payment of care fees and whether there are, at the time, any limits on how much of the property the person owns can be taken to pay the care fees.)

The need for a Will

If you use this letter but then have made no will specifying where your share goes and the other owner is your spouse, i.e. your next of kin, there is a risk that they will inherit your share of the property and own it outright, and then you are “back at square one” – The rules of intestacy would apply here if there was no will.

Therefore it is important that, as well as severing the joint tenancy, you make a new will and in it you do not leave your share in the property to your spouse after you have severed your joint tenancy. For our full range of will templates, please click here.

Clauses in this Notice of Severance of Joint Tenancy

Address it at the top to the person you own the property with as joint tenants – usually this will be your spouse. (In the unlikely event that it is more than one person, then put all their names and addresses in here.)

Fill in the date, i.e. the actual date you sign it.

Below the date, after where it says “Dear”, fill in the name or names of the person(s) to whom it is addressed (just as with a normal letter, you can use their first names here if you like).

In the next paragraph fill in (a) the full address of the property in question (with the postcode) and (b) the title number it has at the Land Registry, presuming it is registered land. If it is not registered land, then delete the words “, which is registered at The Land Registry with title number [NUMBER]”. 

In the next paragraph if you own the property equally then keep the words “equal shares” and delete the rest of the paragraph and the 2 bullet points below. If not, then instead keep the other option and fill in the percentages you each have and your names in the bullet points below.

Signature clause – Treat this as a simple letter, so finish it off by signing it and stating your name below. Give (or send) 2 copies to the other owner (or to each of the other owners if more than 1 other). You can sign both copies.

Receipt clause – Fill in the name of the recipient in the paragraph and again below where they are to sign. When they sign one copy, they should date it with the date on which they actually sign it.

They should give (or send) that signed one back to you, although getting one back from them signed is not essential (for example if they are not in agreement) – you can still proceed with registering the severance notice of joint tenancy at the Land Registry.

Registration of the severance

If the property is registered land at the Land Registry, you now need to register this change with the Land Registry. They will note a “restriction” on the title. The procedure you need to follow is set out on the following web page: https://www.gov.uk/joint-property-ownership/change-from-joint-tenants-to-tenants-in-common.

You can download the Land Registry form “SEV” you need for free from that web page and there is no fee for registering the severance notice of joint tenancy at the Land Registry.

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