The Swartzbaughs owned some land in joint tenancy.
Mr. Swartzbaugh wanted to lease some of the land to Sampson to open a
boxing ring. Mrs. Swartzbaugh objected to the lease. Mr. Swartzbaugh
went through with the lease agreement without Mrs. Swartzbaugh approval or
Sampson ripped out Mrs. Swartzbaugh's walnut grove, and
built a $10k boxing arena on the land. He only paid Mr. Swartzbaugh $15
a month in rent.
Mrs. Swartzbaugh was worried about "women and
liquor" entering the land.
There was some question as to whether the elderly Mr.
Swartzbaugh was competent to enter into a contract.
Mrs. Swartzbaugh sued to have the lease canceled and
The Trial Court dismissed the case and left Sampson's
lease intact. Mrs. Swartzbaugh appealed.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Appellate Court noted that in a joint tenancy,
all the tenants have a right to possess the land and use it as they see
fit. A joint tenant has no right to charge another joint
tenant rent for occupancy or profits derived from that person's labor
on the land.
The Court also noted that in a joint tenancy,
one tenant has the right to place a mortgage or lien on their interest in
the property. However, this does not bind the other tenants.
The Court found that a tenant "may, by
either lease or license, confer upon another person the right to use the
property of the co-tenancy as fully as such lessor or licensor himself
might have used or occupied it if such lease or license had not been
Basically, since Mr. Swartzbaugh had a right to build a
boxing ring on the land without requiring Mrs. Swartzbaugh permission,
he had a right to allow Sampson to build a boxing ring on the land
without requiring Mrs. Swartzbaugh's permission.
Of course, Sampson could only lease what Mr. Swartzbaugh
owned, which was a partial possession of the land.
For example, Sampson could not bar Mrs. Swartzbaugh
from entering the part of the property he was leasing because, as
co-tenants, Mr. Swartzbaugh did not have the right to bar Mrs.
Swartzbaugh from entering their shared property. If Mrs. Swartzbaugh
was barred, she had a right to sue for ouster.
As co-tenants, Mr. Swartzbaugh was liable to Mrs.
Swartzbaugh for half the rent he received from Sampson. He owed her
$7.50 a month.
After this case, Mr. Swartzbaugh gave his interest in the
non-leased land to Mrs. Swartzbaugh, and his interest in the leased land
to his daughter, thereby splitting the land into two independent parcels.