Severance of Joint Tenancy
Severance has to do with the English and Welsh legal system for joint ownership of property – for more details see:
Link Joint Ownership form
Most lay-people (and many professionals!) find the scheme bewildering and difficult to understand – so don’t feel bad if this explanation seems like gibberish to you:
Severing a joint tenancy normally converts a legal and beneficial joint tenancy (in which neither owner has any separate share of their own) into a beneficial tenancy in common in equal shares – in which each co-owner has an equal (but undivided) interest in the property, beneficially. The legal title is always held jointly by the joint legal owners – but (subject to the Trust for Land – and once properly registered) the severance puts the trust-restriction onto the title. The shares are “protected” from the legal owner “survivorship rule” by the need for the legal owner to appoint a co-trustee to give good receipt/overreach the restriction.
Severance can be done by any co-owner – it does not require the co-operation of the other(s) – but does require service of notice on the others.
In many circumstances, severance makes good legal sense, e.g. in instances of relationship breakdown, some estate planning scenarios including on occasion when one of joint owners may require local Authority care provision, etc.
How long will it take?
We don’t generally do anything for new clients until our process of client retention has concluded – this involves agreeing the scope of what we are doing for the price (our terms are below), setting-up our client record (that includes ID checks), and producing the bill (payment in advance is required for all new clients).
After that, the production of the notice of severance is a job that we can undertake in less than an hour once we can schedule it in our workflow, that can depend on how busy we are at any particular time. We would not usually take-on a job for which we could not engage within about a working week.
A completed severance will then need to be submitted to HM Land Registry for registration. The time HM Land Registry take to process registrations varies greatly, depending on how busy they are, and the type of application. Severance applications are often processed very quickly, up to “next day”; however, some applications appear to languish awaiting HM Land Registry attention; in 2021 some applications were taking about 6 months to be registered – and some types of application can take even longer than that, unfortunately. However, once submitted HM Land Registry process applications on any title in order of submission - so their delay ought not to affect the priority of your application relative to other matters on that title.