Swartzbaugh v. Sampson

11 Cal. App. 2d 451, 54 P.2d 73 (1936)

 

RULE:

An estate in joint tenancy can be severed by destroying one or more of the necessary unities, either by operation of law, by death, by voluntary or certain involuntary acts of the joint tenants, or by certain acts or omissions of one joint tenant without the consent of the other.

FACTS:

Defendant husband and plaintiff wife owned property in joint tenancy with a right to survivorship. Defendant husband and defendant lessee negotiated and agreed to sublet a portion of the land for a boxing pavilion. Throughout the negotiation, plaintiff made it known that she was opposed to the lease and remained uninvolved in the negotiation. Plaintiff did not sign the lease agreement. Defendant husband maintained all of the income from the lease agreement. Plaintiff brought suit to cancel the lease. The lower court dismissed the action on the basis of nonsuit. On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court's judgment.

ISSUE:

Can one joint tenant, who has not joined in the leases executed by her co-tenant, maintain an action to cancel the leases where the lessee is in exclusive possession of the leased property?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Where one tenant leases common property to a third party, the other tenants in common cannot cancel the lease or recover exclusive possession of the entire property. The leases are valid and existing contracts giving defendant lessee the same right to the possession of the leased property that plaintiff had. It follows they cannot be cancelled by plaintiff in this action.

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