Under land law, a consideration of whether or not joint tenancies can be severed, and under what circumstances they may be severed.
Can a joint tenancy be severed? If so, how?
A legal joint tenancy cannot be severed under s36(2) LPA 1925. However, the equitable interests in a joint tenancy on the other hand, can be, in a number of ways. In the event that the equitable principle is severed, the legal title will still be vested in the co-owners as joint tenants and trustees, and the severed tenant will become a tenancy in common having a distinct share of the property. Any other joint tenants will continue to own the rest of the shares in the property as a whole.
The joint tenancy in equity can be formally severed by written notice or can be informally severed; by acting upon one’s share, through mutual agreement and in the course of dealings (Williams v Hensman (1861)). Should a joint tenancy attempt to sever by written notice the notice must: be received by all other joint tenants, have clear wording of an intention to sever and express a desire for immediate severance of the joint tenancy. Severances must occur inter vivos (between the living) and cannot be completed by a will. Unilateral oral statements do not constitute a severance (Burgess v Rawnsley ).