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Severance of Tenancy

Owning a house as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common makes a vital difference to how your Will can work.

Severance of Tenancy


Many people own a house jointly - but as Joint Tenants, or Tenants in Common? Here is the difference:-

Joint Tenants

When one joint owner dies, the other automatically owns all of it - no matter what it might say in your Will. This is similar to how a Joint bank account normally works and most married couples tend to own a property this way.

Tenants in Common

Think of this as you each just owning your share of the property (typically 50/50, but it can be in any proportion). When one owner dies their share passes according to their Will (or if no Will, then according to the laws of intestacy)


In your Will you may be able to protect part of your house against being lost to outside demands, such as inheritance tax, debts, remarriage, long term care fees etc - but this will only work if you do not own the house as Joint Tenants.

The ownership can be changed to Tenants in Common, by undertaking a Severance of Tenancy. Your Will writer can help you check the ownership and make the change if necessary.

“But with our house only one name is on the Deeds - what should we do?” The most appropriate course of action might be simply leaving the house in one name and make suitable Wills - but it will need a more detailed review of situation before you decide.