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Relinquishment of joint tenancies

This content applies to England

The rules about the relinquishment of joint tenancies are the same as assignment.

Relinquishment was a way for a joint tenant who did not have the right to assign her/his tenancy to give up her/his interest in the tenancy without affecting the other joint tenant's right to remain. The House of Lords has put an end to the practice of relinquishment of joint tenancies.[1]

The House of Lords decision reversed the previous Court of Appeal decision[2] which had found that it was possible for a joint tenant, who wished to leave the property but could not assign the tenancy because it was a periodic secure tenancy,[3] to relinquish her/his interest in the tenancy without affecting the other joint tenant's right to remain.

Relinquishment was an option available in cases such relationship breakdown (see the section on Relationship breakdown for more information) or where there was no personal relationship between the joint tenants and one simply wished to leave. It was achieved by the joint tenants signing a 'deed of release' to remove one joint tenant from the tenancy.

The House of Lords held that relinquishment was effectively assignment by another name and so the rules and restrictions on assignment applied equally to a deed of relinquishment (see the page on rules for Different tenancy types for more information).

[1] Burton v Camden LBC [2000] UKHL 8.

[2] Burton v Camden LBC [1996] EWCA Civ 522.

[3] s.91(1) Housing Act 1985.

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