This question is specifically about the law in England and Wales.

X and Y are joint tenants. Y severs the beneficial joint tenancy to become a tenancy-in-common (with a written notice). Y dies leaving his share to Z in a Will. In between Y's death and the distribution of the Will, X sells the property to Q and makes no mention of Z having an equitable interest in the property. What are Z's rights in the property? Does Z have an overriding interest?

Note: the change from the joint tenancy to tenancy-in-common was not registered.

  • Was the change in ownership (joint tenants to tenants-in-common) registered?
    – Dale M
    Jan 11 at 10:26
  • @DaleM I have edited to answer your query. Jan 11 at 10:29
  • FWIW, the result would be different under U.S. race-notice statutes than under English law.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 11 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


If it isn’t registered, it didn’t happen

That’s all there is.

The land registry in England and Wales is definitive for all transactions for the whole country since 1998 (the exact date depends on which part of the countries).

If the joint tenancy was registered and the change wasn’t then it’s still a joint tenancy - X owned the land on Y’s passing.

  • Surely severance only happens "behind the curtain," meaning that it is kept off the registry. That's the point of overriding interests, isn't it? Jan 11 at 11:17
  • @JoshuaPearl It appears that it shouldn't: gov.uk/joint-property-ownership/… so it may well be true that an unregistered notice has no effect.
    – richardb
    Jan 11 at 13:32
  • Would there be any equitable or bad faith remedy (independent of a determination of who is in legal title to the property and perhaps attaching to the proceeds independent of the rights of the BFP)?
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 11 at 22:54

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