Severance of Tenancy


I’d be grateful if any forum members could offer advice on how they instigate the severance of tenancy?

I know this can done on the land registry, (SEV), it can also be completed by a simple letter to the other party.

As we having issues with COVID19 and the land registry, if A sends B a letter severing the tenancy is this acceptable?

In our situation this relates to IPDIs in the will, do you serve notice before signing or after?

Richard Bishop

With ‘friendly’ severances e.g. couples making wills including trust provisions I get them to sign (in duplicate) a short form of agreement to sever, at the same time as the will. I sign the SEV form, although this can be done by the clients. The Land Registry will deal with it although currently it takes longer than usual.

The SEV form does not of itself effect a severance (I think there has been a recent case on this point)

Tim Gibbons

1 Like

It’s acceptable to be done by letter as you suggest, but I always feel that if both parties are doing it for a joint reason it would be better not to have the implication that one is instigating the process. Therefore a Land Registry severance seems to me to be better.

Julian Cohen

Simons Rodkin

1 Like

The joint tenancy can be severed at any time, provided that the severance is effective before death.

Where this is done by notice, the notice needs to have been received before death, and not merely sent.

Where a joint notice is used, it is not necessarily unusual for this to be placed with the wills, and not notified to HM Land Registry. This is still effective, although runs the risk of “getting lost” unless copies held by third parties (a bit like where mutual wills are declared only in a letter held with the wills!). This could result in more “flexibility” than is proper.

As Tim Gibbons identifies, the Land Registry entry does not, in itself, effect severance.

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals

1 Like

Severance may be effected by a simple notice served on the other joint tenant by sending the Notice by registered post or recorded delivery to the last known place where the other joint tenant lives.

So long as the Notice is not returned undelivered the Notice will have been validly served [LPA 1925, s. 196(4)].

I think Tim is referring to Fantini v. Scrutton & Others [2020] EWHC 1552 (Ch)

Malcolm Finney

1 Like

Thanks for the comments and advice. Much appreciated.


We usually get husband and wife to sign a mutual notice of severance when they execute the Wills. There is a standard form for this in one of the text books. One slight word of warning. Sometimes the whole property has several different areas - part of the land may be registered at the Land Registry. Another part may not. (we have actually had this problem) so the SEV alone many not to the job. The notice of severance is best worded to sever the land registered at the Land Registry by reference to the title number and also all land at the address (just in case a strip of land at the end of the garden is not registered)

Another incidental point is that couples sometime have substantial amounts in joint bank / building society accounts so severance of the land alone may not be enough. They may need to restructure their investments - but we get them to seek independent financial advice from an IFA on this point.

Thanks Vincent. Your excellent points are noted. Thank you for replying.