#ASKPICASSO - Severance of Tenancy Q&A

Hi Everyone,


We've decided that every week, we're going to answer your most burning legal questions about several topics that you can see in the graphic. We're calling it #ASKPICASSO (we know, imaginative right) anyway, this week we're focussing on Severance of Tenancy, so see our answers to your most common queries below!


Q1) What is Severance of Tenancy?

 A)    A severance of tenancy is essentially splitting your joint-owned property into clearly defined portions (50/50), so that should you pass on, your property is not automatically transferred to the other joint owner, but instead is transferred to the beneficiaries that you select. This is particularly important for a couple who are recently divorced, as it allows you to select your children as the natural recipients of your half of the property (or whoever else you would like to select), rather than having to rely on your former spouse to provide for them or give them the responsibility to do so.


Q2) How do I Sever the Joint Tenancy?

 A)    A Notice of Severance must be signed by the party who wishes to sever the tenancy, and this will then need to be served upon the co-owner. This is done, simply by sending the Notice of Severance to the other joint property owner by post and requesting that they also sign and return the agreement. Following signatures and completion, the notice is sent to the Land Registry, which then confirms that the new agreement has come into effect and the former joint-tenants are now considered Tenants in Common. 


Q3) How much does a severance of tenancy cost?

 A)    Provided everyone signs and dates the necessary documents and co-operates throughout the process, severing the joint tenancy should not cost any more than £100.00.


Q4) What happens if the other party does not return the signed Notice of Severance?

 A)    The Land Registry can only agree to sever the property if they are satisfied that the Notice of Severance has definitely been served on the other party. By providing a Notice of Severance which has been signed and dated by the other party, this is clearly proved. However, in the event that the agreement is not duly signed and dated by the other party, if the Land Registry are satisfied that the Notice of Severance has been served on the other party, they will then agree to register the required restriction and your tenancy shall be considered severed.


Q5) If I get a Severance of Tenancy, should I also alter my Will to reflect these changes?

A)    Following the severance of a joint tenancy, you should alter your Will to ensure that your interest in the property does indeed pass to your loved ones and beneficiaries in a desirable manner. This is also important as all documents will clearly state your intentions and wishes following your passing.


Q6) Are there any other advantages of having a Severance of Tenancy?

A)    A Severance of Tenancy can ensure that if you are to pass and your spouse subsequently enters residential care, half of the property can be protected from being taken over by the local authority to fund care fees. A Severance of Tenancy can also reduce the amount of inheritance tax that you are required to pay.

Q7) Are there any disadvantages to having a Tenants in Common agreement?

A)    It may not suit everybody, as some people will be happy to transfer their ownership of property to their partner or former partner, therefore, it is important to consider your circumstances regarding the issue. One specific disadvantage of a Tenants in Common agreement is that if one partner goes into care, the other partner living in the jointly owned home may not be able to move because the local authority can take the proportion of the property owned by the person in care, to pay for such services. This can therefore prevent the remaining person from ever moving home after the first has gone into care.

If you require any support or assistance, please get in touch!

Thank you.