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Joint Tenants, Tenants in Common and Severing Tenancy

When multiple people own property or Land, this is known as being co-owners.

There are two different types of Co-owners:

  • Joint Tenants and;
  • Tenants in Common

Joint Tenancy

Where a joint tenancy exists, the interests of co-owners are equal. The result of this means that if one of the co-owners dies, their interest in it does not form part of their estate but passes automatically to the surviving co-owner(s) in equal shares.

This is known as the right to survivorship and it over-rides the wishes in the deceased’s Will. Therefore, any gift of an interest in a joint property will fail.

Tenants in common

When co-owners own property as Tenants in Common, this means that unlike Joint Tenants, they have a defined and distinct share of the property. The interests of the co-owners can be in any proportion. Unlike Joint Tenancy, there is no right to survivorship. Therefore, each co-owners share in the property forms part of their estate and can be gifted by Will.

Severing a Joint Tenancy

If a person wishes to leave their interest in a jointly owned property other than to the surviving co-owner the joint tenancy must be severed. A severance is a unilateral act and there is no necessity for the other co-owners to agree to it or understand it. There are five ways to sever a joint tenancy; however, for this article, we will discuss severing Tenancy by Notice in writing to other joint tenants as this is the most widely used method of severing a joint tenancy.

The notice must be in writing

There is no prescribed form and a letter may suffice. An email may be possible but there is no legal authority to confirm that this is valid so should be avoided. Notice of severance by Will is ineffective. It does not have to be signed but we recommend that it should be signed by the person severing the joint tenancy.

The written notice must be served upon the other owners

Service on the co-owners is sufficient if the notice is left at the last known place of abode or business in the UK of the person to be served. If the letter is not returned undelivered then service is deemed to have been made at the time in which the letter would in the ordinary course have been delivered.

The written notice must be served upon the other owners before the death of either party.

How can we help?

During our Will interview, we explain the way your property is held and advise you about when it would be beneficial for you to own the property differently. We will also complete the necessary documents to ensure that the property is dealt with as per your wishes.

If you would like to contact us regarding Co-ownership and severing a tenancy you can contact us by using the form below.

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Butterworths Solicitors
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Email: Contact@butterworths-solicitors.co.uk

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Butterworths Solicitors
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Frequently asked questions

What are the Different Types of Co-Owners?

There are two different types of Co-owners:
– Joint Tenants and;
– Tenants in Common

What is a Joint Tenancy?

A Joint Tenancy is where the interests of co-owners are equal. The result of this means that if one of the co-owners dies, their interest in it does not form part of their estate but passes automatically to the surviving co-owner(s) in equal shares.

What is the right to survivorship?

The Right of survivorship is when Co-Owners share property equally under a Joint Tenancy. When one Co-owner dies, their interest in it does not form part of their estate but passes automatically to the surviving co-owner.

What are Tenants in common?

Tenants in Common means that unlike Joint Tenants, they have a defined and distinct share of the property. The interests of the co-owners can be in any proportion. Unlike Joint Tenancy, there is no right to survivorship.